La Rinascente

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(established 1918)

This Milanese department store was established after the First World War and has done much to promote higher standards of Italian design. The Italian poet Gabriele D'Annunzio conceived its name, La Rinascente (Rebirth), one that had a particular resonance in the 1930s when the company also did much to promote the domestic consumption of Italian products in the drive towards national self‐sufficiency (autarchy) under Mussolini. After the Second World War, La Rinascente redoubled its efforts to influence Italian consumer taste by commissioning leading designers such as Gio Ponti and Franco Albini to design aesthetic mass‐produced goods. Max Huber designed the company's corporate logo in 1950, a period when Swiss designer Albe Steiner also worked on La Rinascente graphics between 1950 and 1954. Also passing through the company en route to wider recognition were many other subsequently famous designers. These included fashion designer Giorgio Armani, who was a buyer for the company from 1957 to 1964, and both Bruno Munari and Tomás Maldonado, who were employed as window display artists. The company participated in important forums for design debate, such as the IX Milan Triennale of 1951 where La Rinascente's contribution was orchestrated by Carlo Pagano. Pagano also initiated the Aesthetics of the Product shows in the store's Furniture Department in which domestic appliances, lighting, textiles, clothing, and other products selected by Alberto Rosselli and Albe Steiner were displayed. In 1954 Aldo Borletti took such ‘Good Design’ shows one stage further by initiating the Compasso d'Oro awards as a means of encouraging better standards of design in Italian manufacture. Other designers involved with La Rinascente included Roberto Sambonet, who was a design consultant to the company from 1960, and Bob Noorda, a consultant to the company from 1963 to 1964.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.

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