Jan 19, 2019

Vico Magistretti

Vico Magistretti, the Milanese genius who made the history of design

From a family of architects, Vico Magistretti was one of the most influential architects in the history of design. He always started from a concept that expressed an idea, regardless of whether it was an urban intervention or an object of design. And it is precisely these two passions of his that intertwined in his life and career, to the point of being indissolubly linked.

Vico Magistretti

One of the most illustrious exponents of the cultural and productive phenomenon that was Italian Design, which began immediately after the war and exported the style of the Italian house in the world, Vico Magistretti was born in 1920 in Milan, graduated in Architecture in 1945 and, immediately after, he joined his father Piergiulio in his studio. He took care of the reconstruction in the immediate post-war period and, with other architects, planned 14 macro interventions on the territory of his city. He founded the Movimento Studi Architettura and took an active part in the Triennale exhibitions. Among the works of that period, he designed, together with Veneziani, the Club House of the Carimate Golf Club near Milan. Magistretti devoted particular attention to the choice and design of the restaurant’s furnishings and this is where the idea of the Carimate chair came from. However, it was Cassina that made him famous when, in 1963, it began to produce the Carimate 892 chair, which is still very popular today.

Among the most significant architectures he designed in Milan during this period there are the Torre al Parco, in 1953-56, the office building in Corso Europa, in 1955-57, and the building in Piazzale Aquileia, 1962-64. This was followed by a number of one-family villas, including Casa Arosio in Arenzano in 1958, Villa Schubert in Ello in 1960, Casa Bassetti in Azzate in 1960, Casa Gardella in Arenzano in 1963 and Casa San Marco in 1969, which is still considered a modern building in the heart of Milan.

Torre al parco

In the meantime, he made the history of the Made in Italy lighting sector by designing the table lamp Eclisse for Artemide. A project that revolutionized the design of light: “This is a great satisfaction, it gives you a sense of the object produced because, obviously, it responds to some needs that has nothing to do with style”. Artemide’s Elisse lamp won him the Compasso d’Oro in 1967, one of the many awards he received during his career as a town planner and designer.



He was awarded the same prize for the Atollo lamp for Oluce and the Maralunga sofa by Cassina, which he created from a design sketch created exactly as it was intended. Among the most recent architectures he designed, we find the Faculty of Biology in Milan, 1978-81, the Tanimoto house in Tokyo, 1985, and the ATM depot in Milan Famagosta, 1989. Over the years he created products for De Padova, Fritz Hansen, Campeggi, Fontana Arte, Fredericia, Kartell. Since 1967 he has been a member of the Accademia di San Luca and the Royal College of Art in London, where he is also a visiting professor.

Atollo Oluce

He holds lectures and conferences in various faculties of architecture and design schools in Italy and abroad, from Milan to New York, from Paris to London. The furniture, lamps and objects he designed are exhibited at the permanent collection of the MoMA in New York, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the Die Neue Sammlung in Munich and at numerous other museum institutions in America and Europe.

Design enthusiasts should not miss the opportunity to visit his historic Milanese studio that now hosts the museum and the Vico Magistretti Foundation.

It is located in Via Conservatorio 20 in Milan, with entrance from Via Vincenzo Bellini 1.

The Vico Magistretti studio museum is open to the public, without reservation, every Tuesday from 10am to 6pm and every Thursday from 2pm to 8pm.  

Entrance 5 €. On the last Saturday of the month, free admission from 11.00 am to 15.00 pm.

Possibility of guided tours by appointment (info on the site)

To consult the large archive of the Vico Magistretti Foundation, write to

For information:

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