A Centenary of Style: Vico Magistretti at 100

Of all the great Italian masters, Vico Magistretti is perhaps the most difficult to define. A somewhat reclusive figure, he thrived on simplicity and elegance, designing everything from experimental cities to elegant mid-century lighting. While flexible in his output, he remained uncompromising in his belief that design should aspire to endurance rather than extravagance, a philosophy that would go on to shape the careers of contemporary figures such as Jasper Morrison and Konstantin Grcic. To celebrate what would have been his 100th year, we thought we’d take a look back over his life and legacy through the objects he left behind.

The Cassina Years

Maralunga Maxi Sofa


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Having spent the first two decades of his career building stunning villas across Italy, in the 1960s, Magistretti began to look inwards, swapping columns and pillars for cushions and seams. He managed the transition with ease, bringing with him his razor-sharp eye and a distinctly modernist approach. He often touted that one should learn to look at usual things with unusual eyes — a feat that explains the extraordinary construction of the Maralunga Sofa.

Maralunga Armchair


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Maralunga Sofa – New Fabric


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The very first of it’s kind, Maralunga introduced the idea of an adjustable height headrest, allowing design-lovers to move with ease from the formality of a conversational sofa to something cosier. The design was made possible by embedding a bicycle chain within the generous foam cushions, imbuing a once static object with movement and life. 40 years later, it remains as stylish as ever and is now available in an exclusive new pinstripe fabric to celebrate his centenary.

Nuvola Rossa Bookcase


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905 Armchair


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Magistretti would also break new ground with several of his other designs for Cassina. The foldable Nuvola Rosso Bookcase reinvented the art of storage, eliminating bulky structures in favour of diagonal struts that would act as both structure and decoration. It’s reduced form was the outcome of a detailed analysis of the classic bookcase, reimagined with Magistretti’s trademark essentialism.


“Simplicity is intellectually more elegant. It is difficult because you have to imagine something simpler than before, but with a better use.’”


Light Touches

Lyndon Outdoor Wall Light


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In his role as Art Director at Oluce, Magistretti’s tireless efforts to render the past as present would establish the lighting brand as a home of iconic lighting design. While the designs were always different, the message remained the same — to reimagine classic ideas with new dynamism and verve.


“To be truly contemporary, one must always have a hand in the past and a hand in the future.’


Claritas Floor Lamp


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Atollo Table Lamp


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Luminaires such as the Atollo Table Lamp and Lyndon Wall Light would swiftly establish Magistretti as an authority in the field, leading to other exciting partnerships with brands such as Nemo and Artemide. There he produced several sleek designs that captured the essence of 60s style — bright colours, modern curves and thermoplastic forms. It was a moment in which everything seemed possible for Italian design — and indeed for Magistretti, it was.

Dalù Table Lamp


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Please Be Seated

The 90s saw Magistretti return to the art of seating, this time in collaboration with the creative minds at Kartell. He set to work on the Maui collection, a multi-faceted series that would seek to satisfy the multiplicity of seating requirements throughout the home. Available in stacking, office and dining variants, it’s a versatile collection that finds new relevance in the modern WFH context.

Maui Chair


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Maui Soft Office Chair


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All of which leads us to the Vico Duo chair, re-issued by Fritz Hansen for 2020. Its clean shape and tight lines exemplify all that is bold and beautiful about Magistretti’s precise style, from the Z shaped armrests to the wooden veneered shell. Its sinuous shape ensures perfect comfort, a true classic to last the ages.

Vico Duo Chair (With Arms)


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Vico Duo Chair (With Arms)


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Summarizing such a diverse and disparate legacy is difficult, but if there is one current that underpins Magistretti’s career it’s a commitment to simplification, to doing more with less — an adage that feels particularly fitting right now. To find out more about any of the designs above or to see them up close, make an appointment to visit us in our 25,000 sq ft lifestyle showroom. We look forward to meeting you!

SHOP VICO MAGISTRETTI ONLINE OR IN-STORE AT CHAPLINS

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