Museo del Design Italiano: 1950 - 1960

Museo del Design Italiano (2019)Triennale Milano

This selection presents objects made from the postwar boom years of the 1950s through to the 1960s, one of the periods of greatest influence of Italian designers.

Lettera 22 (1950) by Marcello Nizzoli, Giuseppe BeccioTriennale Milano

Lettera 22

Lightweight and compact, easy to carry, it is the prototype for the portable typewriter.

Lettera 22' Wooden Model by Giovanni SacchiTriennale Milano

Conceived in 1950, while Italian society was busy with the postwar reconstruction, it was soon adopted by journalists, who particularly appreciated its manageability and the fact that it could be laid down on a table in an upright position, thus freeing up the space that was needed to correct typewritten texts by hand.

Lettera 22 - Packaging (1950) by Marcello Nizzoli, Giuseppe BeccioTriennale Milano

Towards the late 1950s it was sold together with a hi-fi LP containing an original typewriting course, as well as a booklet with dictation exercises penned by the writer Mario Soldati.

Lady (1951) by Marco ZanusoTriennale Milano


Between 1947 and 1948, Pirelli began its first experimental studies on the possible use of foam rubber and elastic ribbons first in car upholstery, and later in home furnishings.

Lady, cover Domus n.278 (1953)Triennale Milano

These experiments, conducted by Pirelli with the collaboration of Marco Zanuso, led to the founding of Arflex in 1951, a company specialized in the manufacturing of upholstery for furnishings.

Lady, Ad from Domus n.268 (1952)Triennale Milano

Lady (1951) by Marco ZanusoTriennale Milano

Lady stems from the assemblage of four individual elements – sides, seat, and back – manufactured independently and then joined in a single by the final product in the manner of an assembly line.

P40 (1955) by Osvaldo BorsaniTriennale Milano


A chair, armchair, and chaise longue, P40 has a whole range of settings that are easy to adjust.

P40, Ad from Domus n.318 (1956)Triennale Milano

The mechanism is simple and it echoes that of the D70 “wing” sofa showcased at the 1954 Triennale di Milano: a lever with stop pins along the positioning holes in the side plate that is easily be maneuvered by a crank. The sofa also has armrests that can be lowered and the option of a flip-out leg rest.

P40, article from Ottagono n.30 (1973)Triennale Milano

Several of these chairs can be assembled to make a single sofa.

Superleggera (o mod. 699) (1955) by Gio PontiTriennale Milano

Superleggera (or mod.699)

Superleggera is based on the model of Italian vernacular tradition and in particular
the archetype of the strawbottomed chair that was made in the Ligurian countryside, near
Chiavari, in the late nineteenth century. The chair was very popular because of its lightness,
simplicity, and stability.

Superleggera, advertising leaflet Cassina (Sixties)Triennale Milano

Ponti began working on redesigning this particular model right after the war, reducing the archetype to its essential elements, and perfecting the joint system.

Superleggera, advertising leaflet Cassina (Sixties)Triennale Milano

The legs and uprights are made from posts featuring a triangular section, with ashwood for the frame, and rattan or colored cellophane for the padded seating.

Superleggera, advertising leaflet Cassina (Nineties)Triennale Milano

The result of this was an object that weighs only 1.7 kg but is still solid and robust.

K4999 (1959) by Marco Zanuso, Richard SapperTriennale Milano


It took five years to design the K4999, the fruit of a long period of experimentation and a gradual approach to achieving the best possible solution.

K4999, Catalogue Kartell 73 (1973)Triennale Milano

In 1959 the City of Milan commissioned Marco Zanuso to design a desk and chair for elementary school children. At first, Zanuso and Sapper thought about using bent plywood, but this soon proved to be unsuited to supporting

Mini Kitchen (1963) by Joe ColomboTriennale Milano

Mini Kitchen

Conceived as the integrated functional synthesis of all that constitutes the domestic space of the kitchen, the Mini Kitchen made out of a single block of wood and stainless-steel combines in just half a cubic meter all the essential amenities, from the refrigerator to electric burners to drawers and containers for pots and pans enough for six people.

Mini Kitchen (1963) by Joe ColomboTriennale Milano

Mini Kitchen fulfills the need to save space, which was very much felt in middleclass homes during the economic boom

Mini Kitchen (1963) by Joe ColomboTriennale Milano

but was also related to the theme of compact living and the desire to synthetically harken back to the ideas expressed in Le Corbusier’s machine à habiter,

Mini Kitchen (1963) by Joe ColomboTriennale Milano

as well as to the design of spaceship interiors in the 1960s.

Selene (1968) by Vico MagistrettiTriennale Milano


In the 1960s, the ever increasing and widespread use of plastic materials by Italian companies to mass produce furniture encouraged a Rationalist designer like Vico Magistretti to implement these new materials according to a wholly functional rationale.

Selene, article from Ottagono n.15 (1969)Triennale Milano

A single block that’s stackable, compression-molded in just one step from a sheet of fiberglass-reinforced plastic, Selene is characterized by the “s” section of the legs that makes it unnecessary to use a much thicker and larger supporting framework.

Selene, invitation by Artemide (1969)Triennale Milano

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