Design Icon: Angelo Mangiarotti

Discover Angelo Mangiarotti, the Italian architect, designer and urban planner famous for his dedicated and revolutionary research on different production materials. From his impactful Milanese architecture that shaped the history of the city to his iconic product designs, Mangiarotti's touch is still present today in our cultural landscape and industry practices.

Angelo Mangiarotti was born in Milan on February 26th, 1921, and graduated with a degree in Architecture from the renowned Politecnico di Milano. That same year, he took the opportunity to assist the preparation of the VIII Triennale, effectively introducing him to the vibrant Milanese atmosphere of the design world. He later moved to the United States as a visiting professor of the Illinois Institute of Technology, where his encounters with Frank Lloyd Wright and Walter Gropius among others became instrumental in defining his personal style as a professional.

Angelo Mangiarotti, Architect

Back in Italy, in 1955 he launched a 5-year partnership with his colleague and friend Bruno Morassutti, where Mangiarotti took his first steps in the architectural landscape of Milan: from those days is the famous "Casa a tre cilindri" in the San Siro district, a fine example of architecture perfectly blended with its with urban planning and renovation process. The studio took this innovative approach of structural research even further with the design of an apartment complex in Via Quadronno, and later with the commission of the new Quartiere Feltre in a joint effort with a group of acclaimed Milanese architects.

His architectural vision deeply reflected in these early works: Mangiarotti viewed the discipline as a form of functional art, an artisanal process that had to follow the importance of functionality and intellectual rigor. This was true also for his opinion of industrial design, that he approached with the same care of a craftsman and the precision of a urbanist.

As a restless innovator, Mangiarotti rarely stayed still in one environment; after his experience with Morassutti, he ventured in the automotive sector working with Alfa Romeo first as a consultant and then as a product designer, working closely with engineers that encouraged and fuelled his passion for material research. While he never lost side of his calling as an architect, these experiences contributed to the expansion of his activities into product design, becoming one of the founding members of the still present ADI, the first Italian association for industrial design.

Angelo Mangiarotti, Product Designer

Angelo Mangiarotti's activity as an architect proceeded parallel to his career as a product designer and lecturer all over the world. During the 1960s, after receiving the chair of Industrial Design at the University of Venice, he delved deeply into materic research, a topic that had always fascinated him and for which he would become internationally recognized: starting with explorations using marble, glass and wood, he designed a number of iconic industrial products such as the glass blown Lesbo and Saffo lamps for Artemide, and later the renowned Eros and Eccentrico tables in fine Carrara Marble for Agape. His armachiar IN 301, created for Zanotta, is considered one of the most iconic designs of all time, and is now part of the permanent collection of the Triennale di Milano.

His peculiar approach has been described as fitting many different design movement, from the influences of the technology-driven Modern Movement to the strictness and severity of rigorous functionalism. While it's true that his many ventures have definitely been inspired by these guidelines, Mangiarotti developed such a personal method that labelling him as a rigid exponent of a single current would not do justice to his almost ingenuous method of conceiving new ideas and turning them into trends themselves.

His experimentations continued well into the 1980s and 1990s, where his partnership with Cristalleria ColleVilca gave him the opportunity of working with one of the oldest crystal workshops in Italy, for whom he created a collection of sculptural glasses and pitcher with his signature fluid lines and exceptional craftsmanship.

For Galleria Fatto ad Arte, he designed exceptional bowls and vases with prized alabaster from Volterra: these pieces, with hollowed-out sections and circular shapes, are considered a masterful example of the marriage between artisanal tradition and innovative design.

Soon, it was clear to design experts that this continuous process of research and experimentation was not guided solely by a desire of disrupting the status quo of design and architecture: Mangiarotti's groundbreaking techniques were guided by an excellent know-how that he shared with engineers and production experts; the meticulous studies on form and shape were executed while never losing sight of true beauty and aesthetics, creating timeless pieces that would sustain the test of time.

Angelo Mangiarotti is also remembered for his long-lasting passion for sculpture, a natural consequence of his interest in materials and further detachment from functionality. His sculptures, created with the intention of adorning some of his buildings and to be showcased in town squares, were conceived inspired by the relationship of dynamism, by the duality of full and empty spaces. Today, some of them can still be admired in public places, such as the stunning "Massacro a Sant'Anna" near Lucca, in Tuscany, and the stone composition "Cinque stele dialogano alle Cinque Terre" in the Liguria Region.

During the decades that spanned his career, Angelo Mangiarotti was able to immensely shape and influence the fields of architecture and industrial design: from his commission of the Feltre District in Milan and the buildings in the central Via Quadronna in Milan, to his steps towards the famed Italian automotive sector, up until his avant-garde product designs and tableware pieces: a true example of creativity, innovation and continuous research that continues to inspire today's masters.

My works have always stemmed from the interest, the curiosity I have for matter and the ways it can be worked; and then sometimes finding solutions pushed to the limit. It's necessary to focus on the choice of the materials with which the object will be realized, because of the delicate relationship that is then created with the form.

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