Designed in the late 50’s by Gianfranco Frattini as a “floor-to-ceiling” central bookcase, Albero was created for use in interior settings rather than for mass production. The Albero bookcase is formally associated with the Neo-Liberty period and, in terms of product type, with the floor-to-ceiling bookcase systems that were popular throughout the 1950’s and 60’s.
The structure is distinctive both for its intricate cabinet work and its sculpted appearance, which ensures that it is the centrepiece of the room. The supporting structure of the Albero bookcase is in solid Canaletto walnut. It is made up of two toothed supports, with a special rack joint, and four vertical pillars with regular holes that make it possible to assemble either 8 or 12 shelves. The latter are in MDF with wood veneer. The caps, at the ceiling and on the floor, are attached to the ends of the toothed supports. The top cap is inserted in a “cup” anchored to the ceiling. The bottom cap grips the floor with a non-slip rubber. The bookcase is held securely in position by four metal locknuts in the caps. The fixing elements (caps and cup) have an antiqued burnished steel finish. The signature of the designer and the Poltrona Frau logo are laser engraved on the lower toothed support. The Albero bookcase can rotate 360°. On request, the shelf surfaces can be embellished and protected with a 4 mm-thick Cuoio Saddle leather insert with tone-on-tone dyed edge. The insert has hand markings around the edge and is branded with the Poltrona Frau logo.
Gianfranco Frattini was born in Padua on 15 May 1926. He graduated from Milan Polytechnic with a degree in Architecture in 1953 and joined Gio Ponti's studio. As early as 1954, thanks to Ponti, he began working with Cesare Cassina, who would always remain an important figurehead for him.He was one of the founders of ADI and was involved in the management of the Triennale di Milano on several occasions. He opened his own design studio, initially with Franco Bettonica, in Via Lanzone, Milan. He worked with numerous companies in the field of furniture and lighting design including Bernini, Arteluce, Knoll and Artemide, for whom he and Livio Castiglioni designed the “Boalum” floor lamp, a true masterpiece and, above all else, an innovation in terms of product type.
Frattini's relationship with Pierluigi Ghianda, a cabinet maker from Bovisio Masciago, was also extremely important. Beyond the human aspect, this relationship exemplified his passion for working at close quarters with craftsmen, always attentive to the quality of manufacturing and the design stories. Wood was without doubt Frattini's preferred material. Some of his interior designs, another professional field in which Frattini has left a significant legacy, formed the backdrop for several of Milan's trendiest social venues in the early 1960s, particularly the Stork Club and the St. Andrews restaurant. His designs in Portofino, Capri and the interiors of the Hilton hotel in Tokyo are also particularly memorable. His work was referenced at the Compasso d’Oro awards numerous times, and he was also a winner of the Triennale di Milano Medaglie and Gran Premio awards. Domus magazine regularly published his work. In 1988 Pier Carlo Santini dedicated an important monograph to him. Gianfranco Frattini died in Milan on 6 April 2004. In 2007 Giuliana Gramigna and Federica Monetti wrote Gianfranco Frattini: architetto d’interni e designer (Gianfranco Frattini: interior architect and designer) for Franco Angeli. His products are displayed in the permanent collections of the biggest design and decorative art museums in the world.