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Design Icon: Franco Albini

One of the most important rationalist designers of the 20th century, Franco Albini was a true icon and a master of Italian innovation. Discover his story and design practice, supported by a moral code that accompanied him throughout his career.

Franco Albini was a major figure in the Rationalist Movement, a complete designer, whose work ranges from construction to design, from installation to town planning. Working on the edge between rigor and poetic imagination, Albini is an iconic interpreter of the Rationalist current, a social and architectural movement whose aim is to improve people’s quality of life through design.

After receiving a degree in architecture from the Politecnico di Milano in 1929, he worked with the Gio Ponti and Lancia design studios. His work for the magazine Casabella also played a key part in his development, marking his conversion to the Rationalist Movement and his becoming its spokesman on the Italian cultural scene. When he set up his own practice in Milan in 1931, he took on the challenge of workers’ housing and continued in this vein after the war, thanks to the opportunities offered by the reconstruction projects he worked on with Franca Helg from 1952.

During the 1940’s, Albini expanded his collaboration with Cassina, which started with chair designs that paved the way for his signature style. In Milan and Genoa, the iconic designer left his strongest mark. For the Lombard capital, he planned the development of the stations on Line 1 of the city’s subway system, in collaboration with graphic designer Bob Noorda. His numerous urban development and building projects for Genoa include the Palazzo Bianco, Palazzo Rosso, and Tesoro di San Lorenzo museums. Franco Albini was the recipient of many honors in recognition of the importance of his cultural and social contributions, such as three Compasso d'Oro Awards, one of the most important awards in the design field.

In all his work, from home furnishings to industrial and museum design projects, Franco Albini always instilled a logical consistency, an extreme purity of expression powered by its strong ethical and social sense. His work represents a keystone of the Italian architectonic culture from the early 20th century through his intense creative activity.

Air and light are the building materials.


Franco Albini saw his profession as a social mission, he believed that people could change the world if their work was based on three factors: awareness of talent and personal mission, the ability to read the needs of society and the desire to collaborate and have a positive impact on the future.

It is to accompany people to delve deeper into these three aspects that Fondazione Albini have started work for the creation of "Casa Albini", an incubator of activities, meetings, ideas and talents located in the spectacular setting of Gallura in Sardinia. Casa Albini wants to be a place where people and designers can meet and discuss, to generate innovation starting from self-awareness. The house is a true collection of Franco Albini's iconic pieces and an interpreter not only of his aesthetics but also of his artistic and architectural ethics.

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