Alberto Rosselli: A Visionary Design Pioneer

Italian architect, designer and teacher Alberto Rosselli was born in Palermo in 1921. He was considered the “innovator” of architecture and one of the primary architects to emphasize the concept of industrial design as it relates to the structure as a whole. After graduating in 1947 from Milan Polytechnic University, Rosselli, he became the pioneer of Industrial Design and proposed new teaching techniques about the concept and process of “decision-making” in design. He decided to create furniture pieces that were modern, functional, simple and affordable.

In 1951, Rosselli designed the first kitchen for a two-person apartment encompassing the principles of functionality and adaptability, this informed his practice of design, concepts and ideas. Rosselli was inspired by the work of Gio Ponti, who became a role model and a figure he followed and studied in his formative years. In the 1950’s Rosselli began to work with Ponti, founding Ponti Fornaroli Rosselli / Studio PFR. During this time, he was involved in the planning of the Pirelli Tower, his first architectural commission. From the 1950’s to his death in the 1976 Rosselli created designs for everyday items – furniture pieces, clocks and electrical appliances, with the concepts of functionality and modularity as his guiding principles.
Alberto Rosselli Poltrone Jumbo“Poltrone Jumbo” modular seating elements constructed of fiberglass, designed in 1968 for Italian furniture manufacturer Saporiti, available in red, black, blue and white.

Mid-Century Modern Trapezoid Desk c.1955, composed of a long teak top with floating attached drawers on an iron frame. Designed by Studio PFR.

Siderea Table Lamp, this striking glass domed lamp was designed in 1969 for manufacturer Fontana Arte.

The iconic Tavolino side table, constructed of teak, iron and brass, c. 1950’s was designed at Studio PFR. The piece looks timeless and celebrates Rosselli’s idea of beauty and functionality.

Alberto Rosselli Confidential Series modular loungeThe “Confidential Series” was one of the first modular lounge series produced for use in private homes. Polyurethane injected foam and steel frame with plush leather upholstery on a fiberglass reinforced base, gives the lounge series an overstuffed yet functional appearance.

Rosselli again embraces his system of modularity in this modular bookcase. Constructed of teak, iron and brass, c. 1950’s Studio PFR. The Gio Ponti influence is very strong in this piece.

Alberto Rosselli P110 chairsOne of Rosselli’s most iconic pieces is his “P110” chair for Saporiti. This sculptural form is shaped via ABS plastic with a bent chrome frame. The “P110” chair is one of the free-form organic shaped designs Rosselli did for Saporiti during the late 60’s to the early 70’s. The lounge chair was featured in the iconic “Italy: The New Domestic Landscape” exhibition held at MOMA during the summer of 1972, shown with the mobile house below.

Roselli’s “Expandable Living Container” shown at MOMA’s 1972 “Italy: The New Domestic Landscape” exhibition is a lightweight aluminum house that extends out in four directions via telescoping runners, hinged floors and accordion walls. The unit transforms from a 7×14 foot trailer into a 20×29 foot living space with room for five or six people. Included in the structure is a bathroom, kitchen, closet, terrace and space for beds. The original design was built to be placed on the back of an open truck bed then moved on to a platform at the chosen destination.

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