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Franco Albini

Biographies
Franco Albini

*  1905 Robbiate
† 1977 Mailand


Franco Albini finished his architecture studies at Milan Polytechnic in 1929. While still a student, he worked in Gio Ponti's practice and Franco Albini's early designs in the Art déco style reveal Ponti's influence. In 1930 Franco Albini opened his own practice in Milan, working as an interior decorator and designer; after the war he finally moved into architecture. Franco Albini showed furniture he had designed at important exhibitions, such as the 1930 Monza Triennale and the 1936 Milan Triennale. In Milan Franco Albini showed progressive designs for the rational subdivision of small rooms; for his "Stanza per un'uomo" (one-man room), Albini designed multifunctional furniture. As early as 1941 Franco Albini designed a radio (it was never produced) in a transparent glass casing, which was intended to reveal all the technical components inside. In the 1950s Franco Albini produced his most popular designs, for shelving systems and seat furniture, which were made by Poggi and Cassina. The shelving was easy to disassemble and could be enlarged as desired; the supports were firmly fixed between ceiling and floor or the shelves were suspended from metal chains. This shelving needed no back wall and could also be used as a transparent room divider. Franco Albini designed seat furniture made of rattan, such as the 1951 "Margherita" armchair and "Gala", the 1952 "Fiorenza" chair (for Artflex), and the 1956 "PS 16" glider. From 1952 the designer and architect Franca Helg was a partner in the practice and had a crucial share in many of the designs. As an architect, Franco Albini is known especially for his public housing in Milan. In 1957 Franco Albini built the La Rinascente in Rome department store in Rome. Collaborating with Franca Helg and Bob Noorda, Franco Albini 1962/63 designed the No. 1 line underground railway stations in Milan. In 1945/46 Franco Albini was also editor of "Casabella" magazine. From 1963 until 1977 Franco Albini taught at Milan Polytechnic.