Carlo Mollino

Architect Torino / Italy

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Carlo Mollino 9
Carlo Mollino
Carlo Mollino (Turin, May 6, 1905 - Turin, August 27, 1973) was an Italian architect, designer, photographer, automotive and aeronautical pilot. Born in Turin, the only child of the engineer Eugenio Mollino, in 1925 he enrolled in the faculty of Engineering and, after a year, he moved to the Royal Higher School of Architecture of the Albertina Academy of Turin, later becoming the faculty of Architecture of the Polytechnic of Turin, where he graduated in July 1931 and where he carried out most of his activity.

Extraordinary case of designer not tied to industry, Mollino was a photographer, graphic designer, engineer, set designer, great sportsman and excellent skier, so much so that he was appointed director of Coscuma (commission of schools and ski instructors) and to be written, in 1951 , the treatise Introduction to descentism from whose pages its restless, imaginative, bizarre personality fully emerges. Furthermore, In 1953, he founded the Institute of Mountain Architecture, to which most of his projects are linked.

Among his best known architectural projects in Turin: the Turin Horse Club, Turin (1937, demolished in 1960); the RAI auditorium room (1948); the war memorial for freedom (1948); the INA-Casa district of Corso Sebastopoli; the Chamber of Commerce (1964, completed in 1972); Casa Fiorini (1957, finished in 1961); renovation of the building of Turin-Aeritalia Airport (1958); the reconstruction of the Teatro Regio, with M. Zavelani Rossi and C. Graffi (1965, inaugurated in 1973).
Other works outside Turin: Provincial Farmers Union headquarters, Cuneo (1933); Toboggan run of the Black lake, Sauze d'Oulx (1946); Villa Cattaneo Agra (Varese, 1952); apartment house, Aosta (1953); Casa del Sole, Cervinia (1955).

Starting from the 1940s, Mollino created innovative architectures and furniture, often outside the box and in most cases not adaptable to mass production, so much so that he earned the title of "designer without industry", but in whose projects he made numerous innovations on techniques and materials, characterized by a tendency to develop objects often produced in single pieces or in limited series. In his design converge the use of artisan construction techniques with the experimentation of new materials and new technologies, such as curved plywood with overlapping layers. In particular, the technique of 'cold' bending of plywood made its chairs, tables and armchairs famous in the early 1950s, whose aesthetic is difficult to classify in contemporary styles, but directly attributable to its futuristic context.

For Mollino, who was greatly affected by the surrealist suggestions, the environment - from architecture to design - is the setting of everyday life and his furniture takes up the sinuous lines of his models, while the sets of the photographer Mollino are often the houses themselves that he was designing, often with mirrored surfaces to distort the perspective, in an almost cinematic way, with an elegant aura of mystery and mysticism. Photography has had a privileged place in the life of Carlo Mollino, using it both as an expressive medium and as a tool for documenting and archiving his work. And his unmistakable designs and projects, as well as the furnishings, are attributable to his photographic research, between erotic sinuosities and aerodynamics inspired by movement.

To contribute to the rediscovery of the works of Carlo Mollino, starting from 1982, is also the production by Zanotta of various pieces designed by him between the 40s and 50s, most still in the catalog today: the chair Fenis that Mollino conceived for the Faculty of Architecture of Turin (also used in the interiors of Casa Provera), a re-design of the Aosta Valley seats; the Milo mirror (designed for Casa Miller) which reproduces the silhouette of the famous Venus; the Erodia mirror headboard, designed for Casa Devalle; the Carlino bedside table, the first piece designed by Mollino in 1933; the Ardea and Gilda armchairs, which reflect the author's eclectic style; the Arabesco coffee table, which had some versions for the Singer shop and then for Casa Orengo, before being made by Zanotta with the current curved shapes in oak and crystal plywood; the Cavour desk; the Reale table, re-edited in 1990 by Zanotta again on a project by Mollino, who in 1947 had designed it for the offices of Reale Mutua Assicurazioni in Turin, and where perhaps the plastic and experimental qualities of Mollino are harmoniously united, elegantly blending the staff and engineering.

After having published the volumes Architecture, art and technique in 1948, in 1953 he won the competition as an ordinary professor and obtained the chair of Architectural Composition, which he kept until his death. In 1957 he participated in the Organizing Committee of the XI Triennale di Milano.

Mollino died suddenly in 1973, when he was still active, in his studio.
Carlo Mollino
Carlo Mollino
  • 1905 - 1973 †