Franco Albini at the Italian Cultural Institute in Paris

Design Market went to theItalian Cultural Institute in Paris to discover the exhibition ” Franco Albini, la sostanza della forma”, on display until 30 May 2016. This beautiful retrospective is the result of the collaboration of the publisher Cassina, the architecture professor Giampiero Bosoni, the Fondazione Franco Albini and of course theItalian Cultural Institute.

Who was Franco Albini (1905-1977)?

franco-albini Franco Albini was an Italian architect, designer and university professor. Known for his rigour, he is one of the great figures of Italian rationalism. He is the author of many successful projects: the INA offices in Parma, the Line 1 stations in Milan, the Rinascente in Rome and iconic furniture: the “Fiorenza” armchair (1952), the “Infinito” shelves (1957), the “AM/AS Series” lamp (1969) etc. His creations are united around a common point: they reflect the designer’s desire to combine tradition and modernity.

Franco Albini graduated in architecture in 1929 from the Milan Polytechnic. He later met the famous Italian designer Gio Ponti, worked with him and then decided to set up his own design and decoration firm. In 1939, Albini made a name for himself: he designed a radio made of glass, thus making the mechanism of the object visible. The transparency shocked and the radio was never produced. The designer had to wait for his collaboration with Cassina and Poggi in the 1950s to achieve the success he deserved.

“La sostanza della forma

The exhibition “La sostanza della forma” is the first French retrospective dedicated to the work of the great designer. Through the furniture, documents and photos presented, Giampiero Bosonia wanted to highlight the various series of construction projects, furniture and installations of the designer. Albini’s rationalist approach and his deep desire to establish a link between tradition and modernity are obvious to us, as the pieces on display reveal his ambitions.


Red armchair “Tre Pezzi” (1959) / Armchair “Margherita” (1955)


Documents on the construction of the Palazzo Bianco museum and the Ina offices in Parma


Photos from the 1950s, taken at the Casa della Cultura in Milan

Since 2007, the furniture company Cassina has obtained the rights to reproduce some of the designer’s pieces, such as the “Luisa” armchair (1949-1955), a small seat on a steel frame, upholstered in expanded polyurethane and finished in American walnut, natural ash or black stained. This iconic piece was awarded the La Rinascente Prize in 1955 at the Compasso d’Oro ceremony, the first European prize for furniture produced in Italy.


The red Luisa chair

The beautiful “Cavalletto” bedside table (1950) has a structure and top in American walnut or natural or black-stained ash. The two copper bars act as bracing. Cavalletto means “trestle” in Italian, a way of evoking lightness and the art of construction.


The Cavalletto table

The perfection of these reproductions is the happy consequence of a rigorous study of existing models and of Franco Albini’s original documents. The production of these pieces is the result of the combination of modern techniques and traditional carpentry.


Photographs of Franco Albini’s iconic pieces

Italian Cultural Institute of Paris
50, rue de Varenne 75007 Paris
Open Monday to Friday, 10am to 1pm and 3pm to 6pm