The Italian Maverick

For my D&T ‘Pichi Kichi’, I am still unsure whether or not that is actually a real term…, I have been assigned ‘Joe Colombo’ as my designer, so here is a wee initial intro into the man himself.

Joe Colombo is definately an interesting, though in many ways tragic character. Colombo was born in Milan in 1930 and tragically died in 1971 on his 41st birthday after suffering his second heart attack.

Colombo’s design catalogue spans just 20 years, with the majority of his design being created and produced in just 10, after he started his design company in 1962. Prior to this Colombo studied as a painter and sculptor and then as an architect before settling on design. The amount of work he created over those 20 years makes him one of the most prolific designer’s of the 20th centuary.

His designs themselves are also interesting. They have that very stylised, futuristic look  that we have come to associate with the 60’s. Where products are plastic and boldly coloured with plenty of curves and bubbles.

One of the things I find most interesting however is his fascination with the future. A great deal of his design work deals with the idea of the nuclear cities of the future and his vision for how we would live there.

Colombo envisioned a future where we returned to a tribal society, where the family unit was no more and tribes were formed based on similar interests. With this in mind he designed ‘living blocks’, which would be incorporated into vast tribal living spaces to create different living areas. He designed bathing blocks, bed blocks, seating blocks and cooking blocks, these blocks served at the same time as the walls and dividers in the space. These blocks were fascinating because they were pure function!

When I started my look into Joe Colombo, I quite frankly, thought he was a bit crazy, and I didn’t expect to like his designs or agree with his philosophy. But I was wrong. Joe Colombo prized functionality above everything else, he strove to make his designs truly modular and multi-functional, he wanted to design things that people could use in any number of ways, whichever way suited them best! His modular furniture was honestly brilliant and if I had the money (and an actual house…) I would buy one of his ‘Tube Chairs’, because they are fantastic!



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