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Italian Design

Postwar Italian Design was influenced by shortages and cost considerations that encouraged Italian designers to think of design as a vehicle for social change. Their experiments with man-made materials (particularly plastics) and new production processes emerged as the dominant innovative force in modern consumer products during the 1960s and 1970s. Many designed furniture and objects that were flexible in function and permitted multiple modes of use and arrangement.

For example, Joe Colombo's mobile Mini-Kitchen on castors reduced the "essential" kitchen to an area of about one cubic yard for use in small living spaces. The firm of Gatti, Paolini, Teodoro created the "Sacco" chair, a soft leather sack filled with polystyrene pellets that adapts itself to any body shape or size. Roberto Matta designed the "Malitte" system of free-form foam cushions that fit together loosely and can be stored as an upright square when not in use. Brothers Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni created the sweeping "Arco" floor lamp of three telescoping pieces and a vertical post that leaves the living area around it open to circulation. Similarly, houseware designers like Roberto Sambonet developed series like the concentric, nesting "Center Line" vessels that occupy no more space than the largest pot. Enzo Mari's "Pago Pago" flower vase can be used from both sides and is manufactured economically in a simple, two-part mold. Some Italian designers made forms that communicated social ideas visually: Gaetano Pesce designed his voluptuous "Up" chair and ottoman to reflect his belief that women were chained by societal convention.