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Joe Colombo Furniture

Joe Colombo (Italy, 1930–71)

He died tragically young, and his career as a designer lasted little more than 10 years. But through the 1960s, Joe Colombo proved himself one of the field’s most provocative and original thinkers, and he produced a remarkably large array of innovative furniture, lighting and product designs. Even today, the creations of Joe Colombo have the power to surprise.


Cesare “Joe” Colombo was born in Milan, the son of an electrical-components manufacturer. He was a creative child — he loved to build huge structures from Meccano pieces — and in college he studied painting and sculpture before switching to architecture. In the early 1950s, Colombo made and exhibited paintings and sculptures as part of an art movement that responded to the new Nuclear Age, and futuristic thinking would inform his entire career. He took up design not long after his father fell ill in 1958, and he and his brother, Gianni, were called upon to run the family company. Colombo expanded the business to include the making of plastics — a primary material in almost all his later designs. One of his first, made in collaboration with his brother, was the Acrilica table lamp (1962), composed of a wave-shaped piece of clear acrylic resin that diffused light cast by a bulb concealed in the lamp’s metal base. A year later, Colombo produced his best-known furniture design, the Elda armchair (1963): a modernist wingback chair with a womb-like plastic frame upholstered in thick leather pads. 


Portability and adaptability were keynotes of many Colombo designs, made for a more mobile society in which people would take their living environments with them. One of his most striking pieces is the Tube chair (1969). It comprises four foam-padded plastic cylinders that fit inside one another. The components, which are held together by metal clips, can be configured in a variety of seating shapes. Tube chairs generally sell for about $9,000 in good condition; Elda chairs for about $7,000. A small Colombo design such as the plastic Boby trolley — an office organizer on wheels, designed in 1970 — is priced in the range of $700. As Colombo intended, his designs are best suited to a modern decor. As you see on these pages, if your tastes run to sleek, glossy Space Age looks, the work of Joe Colombo offers you a myriad of choices.


Iconic Designs from Joe Colombo
Explore timeless pieces that have earned their place in history.
Tube Chair
Tube Chair
Alogena Lamp
Alogena Lamp
Chair No. 4801
Chair No. 4801
Elda Armchair
Elda Armchair
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Joe Colombo Tube Chair
By Flexform, Joe Colombo
Located in New York, NY
Produced in the 1960s the tube chair but Joe Colombo is a unique play on shapes and space. Like Russian dolls, the plastic tubes stack and fit in one-another. Originally they came wi...
Category

1970s Italian Mid-Century Modern Vintage Joe Colombo Furniture

Materials

Foam, PVC

Joe Colombo Plywood Lounge Chair '4801'
By Joe Colombo
Located in New York, NY
Original Colombo lounge chair with three interlocking bent plywood sections. Vintage series only made 1963-1964 for Kartell in Italy. This example still has rare removable leather c...
Category

1960s Italian Mid-Century Modern Vintage Joe Colombo Furniture

Materials

Leather, Plywood

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