Milan, Italy, design 1953, reissue 2008
Franco Albini’s Cicognino expresses the sense of subtle irony animating not only the architect’s design work, but also his entire life. The Cicognino with its refined, essential, yet playful design, is able to evoke a feeling of familiarity in its observer. Albini focused on abstraction, reducing the small table to a few simple elements: a 40 cm diameter surface, encircled by a thin rim of wood forming a tray and supported by three thin legs which rest perfectly on the ground. One of these legs extends upwards to a height of 79.5 cm, about twice the height of the other legs, and terminates with a handle that facilitates carrying. What attracts the observer, however, is that this elongated leg evokes the image of a stork’s long neck. This image is accentuated by the fact that, at a certain height, the leg narrows, then widens out again, and then folds into a “beak”. It is through attention to detail that the object achieves its expressiveness, making it ‘real’ enough to expect it to take off at any time. This project evidences Albini’s desire to create mass production furniture. The table is designed to be disassembled with great ease, reducing its size to a minimum for packaging and transportation. The various components of the table are connected to its underside, ensuring considerable stability and balance. The TN6 table was first produced in 1953 by Poggi from Pavia, Italy. Initially manufactured in walnut, mahogany or birch plywood, today the table has been reissued by Cassina. It is currently available in walnut, ash and rosewood as part of the “I Maestri” collection, a line of faithful reproductions of the major works by the masters of twentieth century architecture. Franco Albini seldom spoke, and even more rarely wrote, but he was nonetheless able to communicate his “values” through a language of solid acts that left their mark on the history of Italian and international architecture.In order to diffuse this “teaching of method”, the Franco Albini Foundation was conceived 30 years after the death of the homonymous architect – or”artisan” as he preferred to call himself -, a figure that many people have investigated, but who has yet to be understood in his totality.
Milan, Italy, design 1940, reissue 2008
In keeping with a common feature of his work, Franco Albini researched support modelling and analysed skeletal structures when working on the Luisa chair. After fifteen years of design development and five different versions (1939, 1942, 1949, 1950 and 1955), Franco Albini reached an analytical synthesis creating his final version of the Luisa chair, a small classic armchair which won him the “La Rinascente Compasso d’Oro” prize in 1955. The statement supporting the awarding of the Prize reads: “In addition to professing the ingenuity and conceptual properties of the intrinsic aesthetic technical solutions of the object presented, and in addition to drawing attention to the designer’s perseverance and commitment through years of continual changes and revisions to his work, we also wish to submit the solutions proposed in Franco Albini’s chair to Italian manufacturers and to the public.” The chair’s structure, seat and backrest are independent elements bound to each other through multiple cog joints, providing rigidity with minimal sections. These joints constitute the founding element of the design and it is through the same that Franco Albini resolves and summarises the sense of the design. “The joints create the geometric relationships between the components and control the sections of wood” 1. In all five solutions formulated, the design is based on the principle of production where the various parts made of different materials and with differing techniques should be produced separately and only joined together during the final assembly. After the version produced by Knoll in 1949 and the one drawn in the same year for Slica di Recco, the final version was produced by Carlo Poggi of Pavia in 1955. The Luisa chair is currently part of the “Cassina I Maestri” collection. The manuscript prepared by the architect for three lectures held in 1956 at the Faculty of Architecture of Venice, where he presented the chair’s design, are conserved at the Franco Albini Foundation along with many other documents. During his lectures, Franco Albini analysed his professional experience to help students to reflect on work methods and approaches to production issues. Rework, take apart and reassemble, remove anything that is not essential. The archive of Franco Albini’s works can be viewed by booking a guided visit at the Franco Albini Foundation.
1 E. Morteo, Il mobile e la morfologia [furniture and morphology], in 45-63. Un museo del design industriale in Italia [A museum of industrial design in Italy], Abitare Segesta, Milano 1995, p. 144.