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Design Icon: Ignazio Gardella

Discover the life and the works of Ignazio Gardella, architect and designer, and the profound impact he has made on the Modernist and Rationalism movements throughout his career, from his unforgettable houses in Venice to timeless lighting fixtures edited today by Tato.

Casa alle Zattere, Venice, 1953.

​Ignazio Gardella was an Italian architect, engineer, academic, and designer born in Milan in 1905 in a Genovese family of architects: both his father and grandfather were renowned architects in their times, and Ignazio enrolled in the Civil Engineering faculty of the Milan Politecnico to follow the footsteps of his family. Gardella is considered a prominent member of the third generation of the Italian Modern Movement along with Carlo Scarpa, as well as one of the greatest exponents of Italian Rationalism. 

In addition to his architectural activity, Ignazio Gardella took also an interest in product design as early as 1947, when he founded with Luigi Caccia Dominioni the Azucena Agency to design products of high quality standards; for his agency, he designed primarily decorative furniture objects, combining modernist aesthetics and formal elegance mirroring his architectural practice.

​His activity started very early after his graduation, when in 1929 he participated in the design and execution of numerous architectural projects in the Piedmont region, such as the church of the Antituberculosis Clinic and the Laboratorio Provinciale di Igiene in Alessandria, now considered exceptional examples of Rationalism.

His works followed practices and lines that would now be considered classic, as he conceived each building and piece with refined details and timeless research, often adhering to the current movement that was taking over the Italian scene such as Modernism or Rationalism, and combined each influence to execute outstanding projects. His aim was to make each visitor disoriented at first with complex structures, yet at ease with the comfort of recognizable patterns.

The Casa alle Zattere in Venice, finished in 1953, is one of the finest example of his work, towering over the canal with its unmistakable repetitive windows and lines.

And if someone asks me what architecture is, I say: give me a theme and a place and I'll give you a project.

​As a designer, Ignazio Gardella particularly enjoyed the creation of furniture and lightings since the early years of his career, and continuing well into the establishment of Azucena. He put an emphasis of craftsmanship and artisanal traditions for the production, as most of his pieces were made by local artisan and regional workshops in an effort to promote Made in Italy pieces. Today, a selection of his works is produced by Piedmontese company Tato.

The legacy that Gardella left in Italian and European architecture and design has been standing until this day, and his influence is still present in modern practices of product design and architectural processes. His profound intellectual curiosity, methodological rigor and complete freedom of thought contributed to the expansion of the limits of the architectural language, deeply shaping the way we perceive the practice today.

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