Design brothers: when talent is a family matter

20 June 2023

From Thonet to Bouroullec passing through the Castiglioni: brothers and successful designers

The possibility of working together with a brother is an added value: this is demonstrated by the success of the many design studios founded and carried out by brothers. The communication is immediate and the taste is similar and the confidence that sometimes even allows open quarrels makes the partnership more authentic and rooted. Often, moreover, the brothers grew up in a creative environment and therefore share a familiar expressive language that is recognized in the uniqueness of their works.

Thonet brothers

The history of the Thonet family is one of the oldest and most relevant in the world of international design, as well as long-lived. It originated in 1819 in Boppard, Germany where Michael Thonet started the production of chairs that still makes this name famous today. Thonet had the intuition to experiment with a new technique for bending wood and his talent was discovered by the Austrian chancellor von Metternich.

He will be the one to persuade Thonet to move its production to Vienna where in 1853 the company takes the name of Gebrüder (brothers) Thonet to involve the sons of the founder and in 1859 the production of chair n.14 starts, an absolute icon and representative of the “Thonet style”.

Wiener GTV Design Collection at Salone del Mobile 2023

Achilles and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni

Of the three Castiglioni brothers (on the cover), Achille and Pier Giacomo are better known than Livio, the older brother and architect who died perhaps too soon to match the production of the two younger ones. Sons of a sculptor, they study architecture in Milan and then open a studio together. We are in the second half of the 20th century and in Italy the Castiglioni are surrounded by innovative, radical, subversive architectural currents in the positive sense of the term. For their part, they carry on a formal and design revolution, giving birth to a series of creations that will go down in history, such as the Arco lamp for Flos, the progenitor of all contemporary arc lamps.

Arco by Flos
Arco Lamp by Flos

Fernando and Humberto Campana

Brazilians, children of Italian parents, in 1984 the Campana brothers founded their design studio in São Paulo, bursting onto the scene with their free and experimental design. From one-of-a-kind collectibles to projects for internationally prestigious companies, their work is characterized by the use of often new shapes and materials, such as bamboo, straw, production waste and recycled materials. But also, for a balance of architecture and art that enchants and amazes. In November 2022 Fernando passed away prematurely at the age of 61.

Miraggio mirror by Edra

Oscar and Gabriele Buratti

“We grew up surrounded by wood, screws and nails”: says Gabriele Buratti who, together with his brother Oscar, founded the design studio that bears their name. In fact, the parents had a carpentry factory and the two brothers had a very precocious approach to the production of furniture as well as a privileged point of view on the needs it entails.

Shiro table by Gallotti&Radice

In the factory they met their architect clients closely observing their working methods. The degree in architecture at the Milan Polytechnic completes this long and dense formation.

Pio and Tito Toso

Born in Venice in 1973 and 1971 Pio and Tito Toso have an affinity and a design understanding that only two brothers close in age can have. Growing up in an area with a strong lighting tradition, they are famous for their projects in this field for companies of the caliber of Artemide, Stilnovo and Vistosi.

Reel rocking sofa by Emu

“The project is a dialogue, not a monologue”: with these words they explain their way of designing in pairs, organizing ideas, and bringing them to fruition.

Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec

From the same generation are the brothers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, born respectively in 1971 and 1976 in Brittany. In 1998 they founded their own studio in Paris and from here they get noticed by some of the most important companies in the sector.

Their style is contemporary and essential, and their gaze is always attentive to sustainability.

Flos Arco
Edra Miraggio Mirror
Wiener GTV Design Hideout Lounge Chair
Hay Palissade Outdoor Collection
Emu Reel Rocking Sofa
Gallotti&Radice Shiro Table

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