As one of the founding fathers of modern Italian design, prolific architect and industrial designer Ludovico Magistretti (known by his nickname Vico) was guided by his philosophy, “There is no excuse for bad design.” His architectural projects are widely revered, and an ingenious meld of form and function can be found in his stylish and deceptively simple table lamps, sofas, armchairs and other mid-century furnishings.
Born in Milan, Magistretti followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather (both architects) to study architecture at the Polytechnic University of Milan. At the outbreak of World War II, he fled to Switzerland, and it was there he met his role model and mentor, renowned humanist architect Ernesto Nathan Rogers. Magistretti was inspired by Rogers’s vision to revive postwar Italy, and they collaborated on several reconstruction projects. Among Magistretti’s first architectural designs is a “poetic” round church, which he created for the QT8, an experimental Milanese neighborhood.
When Magistretti returned to Milan in 1945, he worked at his father’s architectural firm. It wasn’t until the early 1950s that he expanded his talents into design while working with furniture artisans.
In the 1960s, Magistretti began his 30-year working relationship with famed entrepreneur Cesare Cassina of the Cassina furniture manufacturing company. In their design approach, the two men shared a vision of the relationship between modernity and tradition and enjoyed a close bond (Magistretti designed Cassina’s luxurious villa in 1965). However, their friendship was not without contention.
Legend has it that upon seeing the prototype for Magistretti’s Maralunga sofa, Cassina hated it so much that he punched it, breaking the back of the sofa, which crumpled into itself.
“Right, great, it looks perfect to me like that,” an unfazed Magistretti allegedly responded, and the Maralunga’s slumped, adjustable-height backrest was born. Incidentally, the Maralunga sofa won Italy’s Compasso d’Oro award as did his Eclisse lamp for Artemide and his Atollo lamp for Oluce.
Magistretti died in 2006, but his designs live on in galleries, museums and private residences and offices around the world.
Find a range of vintage Vico Magistretti furniture and lighting on 1stDibs.
1970s European Vintage Vico Magistretti
1970s Italian Mid-Century Modern Vintage Vico Magistretti
1970s Italian Modern Vintage Vico Magistretti
1980s Italian Mid-Century Modern Vintage Vico Magistretti
2010s Italian Mid-Century Modern Vico Magistretti
1950s Italian Mid-Century Modern Vintage Vico Magistretti
20th Century Italian Mid-Century Modern Vico Magistretti
1960s Italian Mid-Century Modern Vintage Vico Magistretti
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- 1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2022The Carimate chair for Cassina is one of the most celebrated pieces of Vico Magistretti but this designer is also well known for the Eclipse Table Lamp, Selene Stacking Chair, Chimera Lamp and more. He is seen as one of Italy’s most influential industrial designers, furniture designers and architects. Shop a collection of Magistretti furniture from some of the world’s top sellers on 1stDibs.