Marco Zanuso

Marco Zanuso (1916 – 2001) was at the forefront of Modern design; he studied in Milan in the years that followed the war. The legacy of Marco Zanuso can be found in standing architectural structures across the world and the museums of New York and Italy. His creativity spanned across furniture design to lecturing and then architecture and interior design. He worked as the editor of Domus, an architecture and design magazine and was integral to the establishment of the first postwar Triennale exhibitions in Milan. With his furniture design, Zanuso was interested in working with metals and his experiments won him international recognition at the Low-Cost Furniture Competition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1948. 

Italian designer, Marco Zanuso studied at the Milan Polytechnic from 1935 to 1939, specializing in architecture. After graduating, he opened his own workshop and began developing his own signature style that combined metalwork and generous cushioning in an elegantly modernist style. Although Zanuso worked mostly through his own workshop, he also was involved in a number of collaborations, with other designers and production houses, from Kartell to Siemens. His work with metal reached into experimenting with latex upholsteries and plastics and thus went into a lasting collaboration with Richard Sapper and together they worked innovatively around stacking chairs and children’s furniture. Zanuso’s architectural achievements and design work took him and his output across the world, from Buenos Aires and São Paulo to Milan and Palomba. He co-founded the company Associazione per il Disegno Industriale (ADI) and remained there as president until 1961. The ADI still operates and is responsible for networking and the regulation of legal support to designers working in Italy. 

Marco Zanuso, 720 Lady Chair (circa 1950) H: 84cm W: 76cm D: 74cm, leather and brass, Kartell Italy

The 720 Lady Chair, designed by Marco Zanuso in 1951, is recognized as one of the most elegant of Zanuso’s work. The metal legs that nimbly support the curved upholstered foam rubber are characteristic of Zanuso’s working with the two kinds of materials. The chair featured in exhibitions in Canada at the Royal Ontario Museum and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, as part of an exhibition of avant-garde Italian designs. The chair is also featured as part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s permanent collection and is on view online at the MoMA website, as part of a cataligue of Zanuso’s designs. The chair speaks of softness and elegance, while seeming sturdy and supporting, which perhaps related to the gendered title of the chair. It was originally presented at the 9th Triennale of Milan in 1951, where it won the gold medal and became recognized as an icon of modern design and one of Zanuso’s key works.