The portraits of the 10 designers who have marked history with 10 timeless pieces

16 December 2022

florence knoll

The most famous designers in the world through their most iconic projects

The common thread that links all the designers who have influenced the history of design is undoubtedly a vision that surpassed all others in their time. The courage to go beyond one’s era, to present something never imagined, was at that moment the engine of formal and functional innovation that characterizes their most iconic projects. After all, this is exactly how an icon is born: with a special idea supported by the technical ability to put it into practice. Indeed, in the history of these designers, a fundamental role was played by the companies and their technical departments which made it possible to transform a project into reality. Companies that got involved and invested in innovative ideas, consigning them to history.

Florence Relax sofa by Florence Knoll for Knoll

Florence Knoll was not only a designer but also a key design entrepreneur for the evolution of this field in the 1900s, especially – but not only – in the United States. Together with her husband, she founded the company that still bears their name today and which over time has remained faithful to a rigorous modernist aesthetic, without however ever being anachronistic or outdated. A feature that can be found in her iconic Relax collection which includes the sofa (on the cover), the armchairs and the bench.

florence knoll sofa

Arco lamp by Achille Castiglioni for Flos

In 1962 Achille Castiglioni designed the Arco lamp, triggering a process of evolution in the lighting sector in which he brings a light that from a functional point of view is both from the ground and from above.

From a formal point of view, it inserts a very strong identity element: the marble base which also has the precious function of supporting the telescopic stem at the end of which is the adjustable light source.

Arco FLos

Atollo lamp by Vico Magistretti for OLuce

Remaining in the field of lighting, one cannot fail to mention the Atollo table and floor lamp with which Vico Magistretti expresses a surprising composition of geometric shapes.

A cylinder and a cone on whose tip the hemisphere that hides the light source seems to be held in magical balance. The overall elegance is further underlined by the proposed finishes.

Potence lamp by Charlotte Perriand for Nemo

In conceiving the Potence lamp, Charlotte Perriand fully expressed that anticipatory vision we were talking about. It was 1938 and the designer imagined a pivoting, essential wall lamp. Far ahead of today’s times, in which the industrial style has become a trend and it is a necessity to be able to count on furnishings and lights that adapt and take on different positions according to the needs of the moment.

potence nemo

Tulip table by Eero Saarinen for Knoll

The stem at the base of the Tulip table was imagined by Eero Saarinen in 1957 with the aim of shifting attention to the base of this piece of furniture, making it first and foremost tidy and consequently aesthetically interesting.

Saarinen hits the target and with the oval-shaped top creates a table that is not only iconic but also suitable for interiors with different styles.

tulip saarinen knoll

Chester Moon sofa by Paola Navone for Baxter

Paola Navone is one of the living design icons of our time and is a clear example of the ability, of the genius, to reinvent classic canons to generate something even more interesting.

Like the Chester Moon sofa with which the designer takes the classic Chester sofa to the extreme with irony and competence. The result is a generous sofa, very elegant and informal at the same time.

chester moon baxter

Pipistrello lamp by Gae Aulenti for Martinelli Luce

The wings of a bat in the moment in which they unfold to take flight are the image evoked by this lamp by Gae Aulenti. Its unexpected and innovative lines evoke at the same time the art deco aesthetics without forgetting the functionality expressed by the telescopic stem and the glare-free diffuser.


Superleggera chair by Gio Ponti for Cassina

There is no doubt that Gio Ponti’s Superleggera chair has been and continues to be one of the most innovative and disruptive projects in this category.

Gio Ponti

Classic but avant-garde, it expresses Ponti’s aesthetics in its lines and in its lightness, the designer’s ability to always be creative and concrete at the same time.


Panton chair by Verner Panton for Vitra

Remaining in the seating category, one cannot fail to mention the Panton chair, a timeless and unequaled icon from a formal point of view. When it was designed in 1959, it was the first example of motion impressed into a chair, a feature still unique today.

verner panton

The contribution of Vitra was fundamental, thanks to which Panton’s ingenious intuition was transformed into a concrete project.

Panton Chair Vitra

Vlinder Sofa by Hella Jongerius for Vitra

Hella Jongerius is one of the most influential designers in the field of research on materials: among his works one of the most disruptive was undoubtedly the Vlinder sofa.

To the classic shape of the sofa, she adds a generous textile covering that embraces it, giving it a modern and innovative style.

Flos Arco
OLuce Atollo 233
Baxter Chester Moon
Knoll Florence Relax 2 Seater
Vitra Panton Duo
Martinelli Luce Pipistrello
Nemo Potence Pivotante Wall Lamp
Knoll Tulip
Cassina 699 Superleggera

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