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ABOUT AZUCENA

INTRODUCTION TO LUIGI CACCIA DOMINIONI

BIOGRAFY

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

Founded in 1947 by Luigi Caccia Dominioni, Ignazio Gardella and Corrado Corradi Dell’Acqua, Azucena has always been held in the highest esteem as an Italian brand, combining formal elegance, understated luxury and an aesthetical purity in its collections, all manufactured to the highest standard.

Named after Azucena, the gypsy in the Italian opera Il Trovatore, the architects created this brand to bring together a number of collections to furnish buildings they had designed. At the same time they saw an opportunity to produce individual pieces as part of their series of furniture collections. This resulted in a range of iconic pieces - in particular the “Catilina” chair - recognisable for marrying different but very refined materials, reworked into traditional stylistic forms. B&B Italia acquired the historic brand, intending to preserve it as part of Italy’s rich heritage, and it is being relaunched in 2018 with a series of “modern classics” designed by the architect Luigi Caccia Dominioni from the late 1940s onwards. The collection includes chairs, sofas, tables and lamps that symbolise ‘made in Italy’ design and that return today as a showcase of style and quality.

“I make curved staircases: people tend to move in meandering lines; when you make a rectangular staircase people instinctively climb up and down it describing an oval line, a curve. They say my stairs are baroque. They are actually just designed to be functional to the movement of people who prefer to follow sinuous paths and not straight lines.”

Luigi Caccia Dominioni

INTRODUCTION TO LUIGI CACCIA DOMINIONI

There are times when you see an object for the first time and it is instantly recognisable. You are thunderstruck as though you’ve fallen in love and you know your quest is over. This flash of recognition often occurs when you first look on work by Luigi Caccia Dominioni, one of the absolute masters of Italian design. While acclaimed in professional circles (affectionately called Gigi or just Caccia by friends and colleagues alike) his name is not nearly as widely known as his designs. His trademark fusion of curves and straight lines, steel and velvet, the traditional and the contemporary, dreams and everyday life, surrealism and practicality all set him apart without defining a particular or replicable style.

From an aristocratic family, Caccia Dominioni cut a maverick figure and did not belong to any particular school of architecture. Whether designing a mansion or a lamp, a stately home or an apartment, a convent or a supermarket he dextrously moved between his projects. He was a quintessential Milanese (as he liked to define himself) and he expressed his ideas with precision often including an element of surprise in his work: industriousness that embraced change, a high regard for manual workmanship giving impetus for innovative solutions. He never deliberately created iconic pieces, a trademark or logo; on the contrary he constantly reinvented his ideas finding ingenious solutions and giving them an unexpected twist. He liked to describe himself as “Baroque” yet many of his objects are so essential in their nature they border on minimalist. How is this possible you may well ask. The leitmotif running through his work is not so much its style as the rigorous architectural approach adopted in his projects, whether large or small in scale. He used to say that “an apartment is a micro city” and those inhabiting it move around “mostly twisting and turning like water flowing down a river”. And this explains why nature’s bends and curves gracefully converge with the architect’s straight lines in some of his most famous designs such as the Catilina chair, the Fascia Specchiata table, the Toro series and the Cavalletto table. And there is a surprise awaiting you at every turn. His passion for history is evident in the love he felt for everyday objects adapting them for the booming, post-war period that had transformed people’s lives at home. He recognised that you must not forget if you want to innovate but that hankering after the past can impede progress. We have a tactile example of this concept in the ABCD armchair and even in the “draped” Poltrona lamp. The same is true of the Nonaro garden furniture that would not look out of place in a Renaissance fresco yet tell the story of contemporary design. There is more than a touch of irony and light heartedness in many of Luigi Caccia Dominioni’s designs that can border on the surreal. A nun transformed into a lampshade in Monachella, a funnel stretching upwards in the floor lamp Imbuto and the racing car seat in the cockpit at home in the Pole Position. And the name of the cast iron table lamp - Base Ghisa - says it all. Like so many of his contemporaries, Caccia experimented with the scale of objects, enlarging and shrinking them and playing with their proportions. We can see this in Chinotto, a small armchair with an enormous padded base and also in the Cilindro ottoman that resembles a giant stopper or pencil rubber. In the right surroundings they work their own magic so as to appear larger in a more confined space which is exactly what Caccia Dominioni believed: “I’ve always adored small spaces and I’ve dedicated myself to making them appear larger”. Caccia Dominioni’s objects are timeless and it’s hard not to fall in love with them. They are a repository of history, stories and ideas that only reveal themselves over time. This explains why he always said his objects should be “contemplated and used”. This is why he always enjoyed such sophisticated patronage, and was loved by fellow architects and designers who gradually assimilated his ideas bringing them to the attention of a far wider public. He was no superstar, but thanks to his refinement and originality his work served as a benchmark for an entire generation of designers and today we can with justification call him an “influencer of influencers”.

“I also thought it would have been a good rule for all cities to make the buildings look as much as possible like soil. If buildings were born from the earth, they would be born with local materials, tone on tone, stone on stone, material on material […]. For the same reason I use red or brown plaster, the colours of natural soils.”

Luigi Caccia Dominioni

BIOGRAFY

Luigi Caccia Dominioni (1913 - 2016) was one of the main Italian architects and urbanists of the second post-war period, and one of the precursors and founders of Italian design. He was a brilliant interpreter of Milanese and Lombard tradition. He began his professional life right after getting his degree in 1936 from the Milan Polytechnic University, when he opened a studio in the Porta Nuova district with brothers Livio and Piergiacomo Castiglioni, and dedicated his time to interior architecture, design, industrial design, competitions and outfitting. In particular, his work in industrial design placed him as a “pioneer” at the 7th Triennale in Milan with a series of radio units designed with the Castiglioni brothers.

A reference point for contemporary designers, he explored the relationship between modernity and tradition during his career, providing a definite contribution to redefining the architecture of his home city, Milan, after the second World War. His most famous works in the city are the blocks of flats in Via Ippolito Nievo, the San Felice district and the redevelopment of Piazza San Babila. As a designer, instead, his most famous work was the Catilina armchair produced in 1957. Luigi Caccia Dominioni won the prestigious Compasso d’Oro for important projects such as the Sedia T12 Palini and the Super door. He also received the Compasso d’Oro for his career and for his objective contribution to the very definition of Italian design and the originality of its content.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Architecture and Design

1938/42
Casa Manusardi, interior design, Milano (with Livio e Pier Giacomo Castiglioni)
Design: Phonola, radio set | Miracoli, cutlery
1947/49
Casa Caccia Dominioni (reconstruction of family home), Piazza Sant'Ambrogio 16, Milano
Design: Cavalletto, table
1948/54
Beata Vergine Addolorata Institute, Via Calatafimi 10, Milano
Design: Sasso lamp
1952/57
Loro & Parisini office building, Via Savona, Milano
1953/59
Office and commercial building, Corso Europa 10-12, 18-20, (corner of via Felice Cavallotti), Milano
Design: Base ghisa, lamp | Monachella, lamp | Imbuto, Lamp
1955/56
Residential building, Via Ippolito Nievo 28/1, Milano
1955/57
Casa Rosales and Casa Somaini, interior design, Lomazzo (Co)
1955/59
Residential building, via Vigoni 13, Milano
1957
Renovation of Villa San Valerio, Albiate (Monza Brianza)
1957/61
Residential, office and commercial building, Corso Italia 22-24, Milano
Design: Fasce cromate, small table
1958/60
Office and commercial building, Via Santa Maria alla Porta 11, Milano
Design: Catilina, armchair
1958/63
Residential building, via Massena 18, Milano
1958/64
Residential building, via Tamburini 5, Milano
1959
Residential and commercial tower, Legnano (Mi)
1959/60
Villa above Stresa, Vedasco (Novara)
1959/63
Sant'Antonio Frati Francescani Convent, Via Farini, Milano
1959/64
Residential and commercial building, via Santa Croce 23, Milano
1959/68
Renovation, extension and interior design, Biblioteca Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, Piazza Pio XI, Milano
1960
Interior design of flats on Via Bigli, Milano
Design: Melanzana, handle
1960/61
Residential building, Piazza Carbonari 2, Milano
Design: ABCD, armchair | Nonaro, chairs, armchairs, tables, small tables, ottomans
1960/62
Residential building, renovation and extension, Via Gesù, Milano
1960/63
«Le Casacce della Rotonda» complex, six villas, Pineta Arenzano (Genova)
1962/64
Benedictine Sisters Convent, Viboldone (Milano)
1962/65
Residential building, Via Cavalieri del Santo Sepolcro 6, Milano
1962/69
Teatro and Accademia dei Filodrammatici, renovation, extension and interior design, Piazza P. Ferrari, Milano
1963/64
Residential building, via degli Alerami 28, Milano
Design: Cilindro, ottoman
1963/65
Office and commercial buildings, Corso Europa 11-13, Milano
1963/66
Residential and commercial building, Corso Monforte 9, Milano
Design: Fasce cromate, sofa
1963/70
Office building, Cartiere Binda, Piazza Velasca, Milano
1964
Residential and commercial building, via Santa Croce 3, Milano
1964/66
Residential building, via Ippolito Nievo 10, Milano
1965/66
Enzo Vanoni Library, via Cortivacci, Morbegno (Sondrio)
1965/67
Fountain and monument Marinai d’Italia, Milano (with Francesco Somaini)

 

 

1965/69
Chiesa di San Biagio, Monza
1967/65
Milano San Felice quarter (with Vico Magistretti)
1967/69
“Church of San Biagio”, Monza
1968/70
Residential and commercial building, via Catena 4, Milano
1968/71
Società Cattolica di Assicurazione, Lungadige Cangrande, Verona
1969/71
Residential and commercial building, via della Spiga, via Senato, Milano
1969/72
Santa Maria Presentata Monastery, Poschiavo (Switzerland)
1970/90
Banca Popolare di Sondrio, renovation and extension, Via Santa Maria Fulcorina, Milano
Design: Fascia specchiata, small table
1972/85
Golf Club Monticello residential complex, Fino Mornasco (Como)
1973
Old age complex, unrealised project Palazzolo sull'Oglio (Bergamo)
Design: Toro, armchair and sofa
1974
Villa Barbiero, Montorfano (Como)
Design: Chinotto, armchair | Cobra, lamp
1975
Residential building, restoration of front, Piazza Giovanni XXIII, Milano
Museo Poldi Pezzoli, interior designand exhibition on first floor, Via A. Manzoni, Milano
1977
Residential building, via A. Saffi, Genova
1979/83
Villa Sant'Ilario, Isola d'Elba
Design: Nelly, armchair lamp
1980
Skairan residential and office building, renovation and extension, Saint Jean, Cap Ferrat (France)
1980/82
Banca Popolare di Sondrio, Delebio (Sondrio)
1981/83
Old age home, Poschiavo (Switzerland)
1982/83
Residential building, via Alessi, Genova
Design: Super, Tris, doors
1982/85
Cultural centre, San Vito al Pasquirolo, Largo Corsia dei Servi, Milano
1985/87
Diadermina office building, via Comelico, Milano
1985/92
Institute of biotechnology, San Martino Hospital, Genova
1986
Ticino Vita office building, Lugano, (Switzerland)
Design: Leggio-mostra, bookrest
1987
Antonio Ratti Foundation, renovation and interior design, Como
1989/91
Piazza Santo Stefano, new paving, Bologna
Design: Tea and coffee service | Ventola, lamp
1994/96
Church of Saints Martino and Alessandro, Pineta di Arenzano (Genova)
Transenna-mostra, barrier
1996/97
Refurbishment of the square and new fountain, Piazza San Babila, Milano
Buildings 22 and 25, Politecnico di Milano, via Golgi 42, Milano
Design: Monforte, bench | Elmo, lamp
2001
Esselunga supermarket, via Pitteri, Milano
2004-2010
Flooring of the presbytery of S. Ambrogio, Milano
Dosso di La Punt residential complex, La Punt (Switzerland)