Defying the laws of physics, going beyond what we normally understand by the conditions of equilibrium, this bookcase is nothing short of a manifesto for Cassina’s design and construction capabilities. After a lengthy period of research and development, ably assisted by state-of-the-art technology, the company’s designers created a production prototype of the original 1940 piece that architect Franco Albini made as a one-off for his Milan home. Respecting the authentic underlying concept of the design, with its compelling experimental feel, as well as its surprisingly spare, linear looks, today’s model preserves the minimal ideal of the original: a feeling of air and light so that the books and objets seem to float free. Thus does Cassina restore to the contemporary world of design one of its most emblematic artefacts, a piece that has acquired the status of a work of art, as magical now as it was when it was first seen.
He was a major figure in the Rationalist Movement, excelling in architectural, furniture, industrial and museum design.
After receiving a degree in architecture from the Politecnico di Milano in 1929, he worked with the 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. He also pursued his furniture designs with other firms, such as Poggi.
Milan and Genoa form the geographical axis where Albini left his strongest imprint. For the Lombard capital, he planned the development of the stations on Line 1 of the city’s subway system (1962/63), in collaboration with graphic designer Bob Noorda. His numerous urban development and building projects for Genoa include the Palazzo Bianco (1949/51), Palazzo Rosso (1952/62), and Tesoro di San Lorenzo (1952/56) museums.
Franco Albini was the recipient of many honors in recognition of the importance of his cultural contributions.
Among others, he is a member of the INU, the CIAM, the AccademiaLigustica di Genova, MOMA in New York, the ADI, the Accademico di S. Luca, the Fondazione Pagano and the London Royal Society of Arts.
He also received numerous prizes, including the La Rinascente-Compasso d’Oro for the design of the Luisa chair (1955), the Bronze Medal from the Parson School in New York (1956) for his contribution to industrial design, the Olivetti Award for Architecture (1957), the Gran PremioNazionale La Rinascente-Compasso d’Oro (1958), the La Rinascente-Compasso d’Oro Award for the Milan Line 1 Subway project (1964), and the Royal Designer for Industry title awarded by the London Royal Society of Arts (1971).
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 and exceptional ethical and historical integrity.
The architectural and design work of Franco Albini represents a keystone of the Italian architectonic culture from the early 20th century through his intense activity revolving around a creative and rigorous approach to composition and building that expresses a particularly high degree of estheticism.