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Gaetano Pesce

(b. 1939)


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(1939– )

A leading Italian architect, film‐maker, and theatre, furniture, lighting, and product designer who reconciled his interests in the fine arts with design in the 1960s, Pesce, like many of his fellow contemporaries associated with Radical Design, sought design solutions that did not conform to the standardized forms associated with mass manufacture and mass consumption. He continued to play a prominent role in progressive design circles over the following decades, placing greater emphasis on architecture in the 1990s. He trained in architecture and industrial design from 1959 to 1965, during which he opened a studio in Padua and was a founding member of the fine arts‐centred Group N. In the late 1960s he attracted attention through innovative designs such as the Up armchairs first seen at the 1969 Milan Furniture Fair. Made of polyurethane foam by C&B Italia (see B&B Italia) and designed for a variety of uses they were compressed under a vacuum and packaged in PVC. When the packages were opened the chairs sprang up into their intended shape and size. Other notable designs in this anticonventional vein included the Sit Down chair (1975) inspired by the ideas of Pop artist Claes Oldenburg. His work was also included in the seminal 1972 Italy: The New Domestic Landscape exhibition curated by Emilio Ambasz at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Other notable designs that have explored layers of meaning have included his melted plastic resin Samson and Delilah chairs and tables (1980), produced by Cassina, whose owner had done much to offer Pesce opportunities for experimentation since the 1960s. Pesce has also designed for Vitra, including the Green Street Chair (1987), and Knoll. His multi‐ and interdisciplinary work was celebrated in an exhibition at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris in 1996.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.


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