Franco Albini is an Italian architect, urban planner, designer and academic, born in 1905 in Robbiate. He is considered one of the most appreciated architects of Italian rationalism of the 20th century. After spending his childhood in Brianza, he moved to Milan, where he earned a degree in Architecture at the Polytechnics in 1929.
He began working at Gio Ponti and Emilio Lancia’s firm, with whom he worked for about three years, and thanks to which obtained his first international contacts like the one with Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier. The turning point in his stylistic language, up until now a twentieth-century imprint, will come after his meeting with Edoardo Persico, which brought him closer to rationalism and to the editorial staff of the renowned magazine Casabella. Thus we reached the year 1932 when he opened his architectural firm, initially dealing with public housing.
His greatest masterpieces are to be found especially in the context of exhibits and exhibitions that will allow him to experience that balance, typical of his style, between rigour and poetic imagination, and which will reach its peak in 1933 at the opening of the new headquarters of the Milan Triennale in the Palazzo dell’Arte. Here the great master is able to clearly express his rationalist and innovative thinking, experimenting with new materials and new solutions.
Franco Albini is a complete designer, whose work ranges from construction to design, from installations to urban planning and who strongly believes in the social role of the architect as a professional working for people.
Alongside his career as an architect, a very important role is also reserved for that of designer, which led to the production of some extremely innovative furnishing accessories.
VELIERO – CASSINA
The Veliero, designed by Franco Albini in 1940 for Cassina, is one of his most iconic pieces elevated to the status of a work of art. It is a bookcase that challenges the laws of statics. A real manifesto of Albini’s design ability and of Cassina’s constructive capacity, which, in order to create the prototype of this incredible piece of furniture, had to experiment with both materials and with the most technologically advanced manufacturing techniques.
The bookcase is composed of a thick base made of drawn steel with an ash wood shell. Two uprights depart from here, also made of ash wood with brass ferrules, which represent the structural heart of the bookcase. In fact, a series of extremely resistant 4mm steel rods branch off the uprights, to which glass shelves are attached to give the bookcase extreme lightness.
CICOGNINO – CASSINA
Another signature piece designed by the incredible Franco Albini is the Cicognino coffee table, produced in 2008 by Cassina. This is a small table with structure and top made of Canaletto walnut or natural ash, stained black or amaranth.
Albini designed the table in 1953 working on the concept of abstraction that led him to reduce the structural elements of the table to a few simple elements: a table top with a diameter of 40 cm surrounded by a wooden sheet that makes it a real tray and three slender legs that promote its support on the ground. One of these stretches as if it were the neck of a stork, ending with a handle that allows it to move easily.
INFINITO – CASSINA
Along with the Veliero bookcase, the Infinito bookcase, designed in the same years (1956/1957) and also produced by Cassina since 2008, has marked the history of Italian design. This bookcase, unlike the Veliero that looks like a work of art, a unique piece, is instead a modular bookcase made up of vertical uprights made of natural ash, stained black or canaletto walnut that extend for the whole height of the room (in fact the connection is made both on the ground and on the ceiling). These uprights also support a series of accessory elements, which make it possible to modify the configuration, such as shelves, containers and hinged or folding doors, also made of ash or canaletto walnut.