Lessons of bold elegance from the icons of 1950s design

1 March 2022

Iconic furniture from an era that left its mark with formal innovations and experimentation

The 1950s are the years of rebirth, they are the new beginning after two close world wars, they are the explosion of life and consumption. But also of a new awareness of living and the desire to bring something new, fresh and never seen before in this sector. It is in this period that interior design and the choice of furnishings begin to take on the widespread diffusion we are used to now and design becomes a cultural issue as well as a function. These are the years in which the companies in the sector grow and, still young, open up to industrial production and formal experimentation, questioning the classic and giving life to projects that are still iconic and highly sought after today. Projects that have been transformed into objects of desire but also into furnishing elements that are still extremely current and versatile, which solve the space and enhance it without errors.

Agnese by Gianfranco Frattini for Tacchini

Starting in the 1950s, Gianfranco Frattini designed a long series of iconic projects, a manifesto of the taste and design philosophy of the time and extraordinarily current still today. Like the Agnese armchair (on the cover): the padded seat and back are supported by the ash wood structure. In particular, the seat cushion extends laterally to wrap the wood and create two comfortable and decorative armrests.

Lady by Marco Zanuso for Cassina

A cradle, a hug: Lady designed by Marco Zanuso brings innovation to the concept of the armchair. The rounded sides and the reclined position of the backrest invite you to relax, the metal feet give support and formal balance. Each element that composes it is independent from the others and has a different intensity of padding. Not surprisingly, in 1951, the armchair received the Gold Medal at the IX Triennale di Milano.

Bertoia by Harry Bertoia for Knoll

When Harry Bertoia designed this chair in 1952, the world was not ready to welcome such a revolutionary and innovative project. The chaise longue is in fact the boldest model in the series of iconic steel rod seats that made the designer famous. It will only be in 2005 that Knoll will decide to put it into production while remaining faithful to the original prototype.

Tulip table and chairs by Eero Saarinen for Knoll

With the Tulip table and chairs Eero Saarinen creates a manifesto collection of his design philosophy: simplify and find a solution so that the furnishings have only one central support. He provocatively argued that the legs of tables and chairs created disorder and that is why, by contrast, the Tulip collection appears to be a hymn to the essential and visual order.

Mexique by Charlotte Perriand for Cassina

In 1956 Charlotte Perriand wreaks havoc in the living room by releasing the classic coffee table with traditional symmetrical proportions. Designed as a dining table for the student rooms of the Maison du Mexique in the university citadel of Paris, it is then also proposed in a small size with the idea, in particular, of combining several units together.

Infinito by Franco Albini and Franca Helg for Cassina

Infinito is one of the most iconic bookstores ever and when it was created in 1956, it was a real novelty. Double-sided, essential in style, it has a structure designed to be easily assembled. Modular, it has accessory elements for both support and containment and can potentially be composed indefinitely.

Saliscendi by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni for Stilnovo

The Saliscendi lamp (on the cover) was designed in 1957 and made in only two copies for the Milan Chamber of Commerce. Today Stilnovo proposes this suspension lamp with unique characteristics: it has a double light source and a hook to raise and lower the lamp. Depending on the position, the light is diffused in a more or less direct way.

Stilnovo Saliscendi
Stilnovo Saliscendi
Tacchini Agnese Armchair
Cassina 720 Lady
Cassina 720 Lady
Cassina 527 Mexique
Cassina 835 Infinito Composition
Knoll Bertoia Diamond Chair
Knoll Tulip
Knoll Tulip

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