* 1905 Turin
† 1973 Turin
Born in Turin in 1905, Carlo Mollino studied mechanical engineering and art history at Turin University before opting for architecture. From 1931 he worked in the architectural practice of his father, Eugenio Mollino. Incredibly versatile and talented, Carlo Mollino worked productively during his long career as an architect, furniture designer, photographer, fashion designer, stage designer, and man of letters. If that were not enough, he won car rallies, was a stunt aviator, and, in the 1940s, Italy's best skier.
Carlo Mollino launched his legendary career by winning first prize in 1933 at a competition to design a building for the Agricultural Federation headquarters in Cuneo. In 1937 Carlo Mollino built the headquarters of the Societā Ippica, the Turin Equestrian Club. Carlo Mollino designed a great many interiors. An irrepressibly quirky invididualist, Carlo Mollino saw to it that his designs did not in the least resemble those of his contemporaries in Milan, who were committed to rationalism. Instead, furniture designed by Carlo Mollino is often distinguished by biomorphic forms and draws stylistically on both Futurism and Surrealism in a highly expressive way. In 1940 Carlo Mollino designed a chair for Lisa and Gio Ponti with a polished brass frame covered in white elastic resin and a back and seat split down the middle. The split back is a characteristic design feature of many Carlo Mollino chairs. In 1951 Carlo Mollino designed the RAI auditorium in Turin; his seating for it is voluminous and low-slung. Carlo Mollino developed a process for cold-molding plywood and patented it. In 1952 Mollino designed the seat furniture for the Casa del Sole in Cervinia, with sinous legs and armrests of continuous wood battens that are bent in several places. In 1953 Carlo Mollino designed a chair made entirely of molded wood for the Casa Catlaneo in Agra. Carlo Mollino's pieces are often one-off furnishings or made in very limited editions by the Turin firm of Apelli & Varesio, which explains why this furniture is so coveted by collectors today. A table designed by Carlo Mollino in 1949 went for a thumping $3.8 million at a Christie's auction in 2005.