Gianfranco Frattini and the beauty of intelligent design

13 July 2023

Gianfranco Frattini

The intellectual legacy of the architect who helped build the foundations of Italian design

Born in Padua in 1926, Gianfranco Frattini lived the most important period in the birth of modern design culture in Italy in a full and decisive way. In 1953 he graduated in architecture at the Milan Polytechnic and for his apprenticeship he attended the studio of Gio Ponti. Therefore, he immediately entered the heart of Italian architecture and design in which, at that moment, the foundations were being created for an industry that would become a leader in the world. In 1954 he began his first and fruitful collaboration with Cassina, followed by other prestigious companies. In 1956 he contributed to the foundation of the ADI, italian Industrial Design Association and later became a member of the council of the Milan Triennale. He lived his profession in the heart of the Italian design world, tracing his own path both in architecture and design. A path that is still current today, as demonstrated by the editions still proposed by the most prestigious companies for which he designed.

Lina, Giulia and Sesann for Tacchini

The Lina armchair was designed in 1955 and nominated for the Compasso d’Oro. Put back into production by Tacchini starting in 2018, it can be recognized by the wooden structure that draws the sides and is combined with two separate upholstered elements for the seat and back. The armrests look like two sheets of curved wood and this feature allows them to be soft both to the touch and to the eye.

The Giulia armchair is also extremely iconic, with its squared lines evoking the taste of the years in which it was designed: it’s the 1957 and Frattini dedicates this project to Giulia, wife of his mentor Gio Ponti.

giulia by tacchini

Tacchini also produces the Sesann sofa by Frattini: designed in 1970, it is the quintessence of the evolution that this piece of furniture underwent in those years. It is no longer the sofa of the bourgeois living room in which to sit sedately, but rather a nest of softness in which to abandon oneself. To the informal spirit is added a great design elegance that can be read in the steel details and in the discreet proportions.

sesann by tacchini

Turner, Albero and Kyoto for Poltrona Frau

Turner is a bookcase designed by Frattini in 1963 and reissued by Poltrona Frau starting from 2019. It has a metal support covered in wood in the center to which shelves for books and a series of dividing elements are installed. The central support allows you to rotate the bookcase, which is self-supporting and, unlike any classic bookcase, it does not have to be placed against a wall but anywhere in the room.

turner by poltrona frau

The same goes for the Albero bookcase, which, as the name suggests, has a structure that develops upwards and is fixed to the floor and ceiling. It is a work of the highest quality, almost a sculpture, in solid Canaletto walnut and can rotate 360°.

albero by poltrona frau

Just as is sculptural the Kyoto coffee table for the living room, designed in 1974 and put back into production by Poltrona Frau in 2020: the top of the table is formed by a dense joint of slats resting on chiasmus legs.

kyoto by poltrona frau

Gong and Maestro by Acerbis

Gong and Maestro are two projects that Gianfranco Frattini imagines in a more mature phase of his career. Gong is a collection of coffee tables designed in 1987 and imagined as a series of essential and effective sculptures. The Maestro table that Frattini designed in 1997 is also austere and evocative: the structure and the play of light and shadow that characterize it are inspired by Japanese architecture.

acerbis by maestro

Stacking low tables by Cassina

In the 1960s Frattini invents a set of tables, which Cassina puts into production, emblematic and intelligent. They are circular and perfectly stackable thanks to a play of shapes and joints. The structure is in beech wood and the shelf is reversible, in formica painted in two different colors on the two sides.

tables cassina

Nòs by Ceccotti Collections

Nòs, in Milanese dialect, means walnut and this is the name chosen by Ceccotti Collezioni to re-edit the desk designed by Frattini in 1957 and still extraordinarily elegant and current. Elegant and practical with its essential aesthetics, it is perfect for a home office.

nos by ceccotti collezioni
Acerbis Maestro Table
Poltrona Frau Albero Bookcase
Acerbis Gong Side Table
Tacchini Lina Armchair
Ceccotti Collezioni Nòs Desk
Tacchini Sesann
Cassina 780/783 Stacking Low Tables
Poltrona Frau Turner Bookcase
Poltrona Frau Kyoto

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