Portrait of Italian architect and designer Giuseppe Pagano Pgatshchnig with a hat and smoking a pipe

Giuseppe Pagano Pogatschnig

Italian architect and designer


Giuseppe Pagano  (born August 20, 1896, Parenzo, Croatia – died April 22, 1945, Mauthausen concentration camp, Austria) was an Italian architect and designer, notable for his involvement in the movement of rationalist architecture in Italy up to the end of the Second World War. He designed exhibitions, furniture and interiors and was an amateur photographer. He was also a long-time editor of the journal Casabella.

Giuseppe Pagano Pogatschnig was born in the town of Parenzo (Poreč) in what is now Coratia (then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire). After attending the Italian language Lyceum in Trieste, he joined the Italian army at the onset of the World War I and adopted the Italian name, Pagano. During World War I, he was twice wounded and twice captured, but managed to escape. In the years immediately following the war, Pagano was associated with Nationalist and pre-Fascist politics, and would be among the founders of the first fascist party of his hometown of Parenzo. read more

In 1924, Pagano graduated in architecture from the Politecnico di Torino. In the late 1920s, he had already designed bridges and buildings, including the Gualino office building in Turin (1928) with Gino Levi-Montalcini, and worked on several pavilions for the Turin Exposition of 1929. In 1931, he moved to Milan to work for the home and decoration magazine La Casa Bella, founded by Guido Marangoni in 1928.

In the late 1920s Pagano had adopted a rationalist position, influenced by Futurism and the European avant-garde, becoming adherent to the theory and practice of Fascist Italy that advocated for a triad of Unity, Abstraction and Coherence. He had a significant career as a writer and defender of rationalist architecture in the press, especially at Casabella magazine – whose name he soon changed from La Casa Bella when he became director of the magazine in 1933.  At that time Pagano was also involved in the V Triennale di Milano (Milan Triennial), where he collaborated in the design of one of the pavilions of the Housing Exhibition – the Steel Structure House – and designed, along Gio Ponti, the Breda ETR300 train carriage in 1933.

Among his most notable architectural projects are the Palazzo Gualino (with Gino Levi Montalcini) in Turin (1928-1930); the Physics building at Città Universitaria (University of Rome) in Rome (1935); the Steel Structure House (with Franco Albini, Giancarlo Palanti and others) and the Summer Hall (with Ottorino Aloisio, Ettore Sottsass and others), for the V Trienalle di Milano (1933); and the Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi (Bocconi University) in Milan (1941).

Pagano was also an amateur photographer, a practice sparked by his desire to document Italy’s vernacular tradition in architecture. He traveled Italy looking for images and creating compositions that expressed material qualities, gave snapshots of daily life, and celebrated what he saw as a ‘real’ Italy – not that of the propaganda machine. From then on he often published his own photographs in Casabella using them to strengthen his critiques of the architecture of the time.

Although Giuseppe Pagano had been a supporter of the Fascist government, by 1943 he started to openly criticize the regime and its practices.  On September 9, 1943, he was captured is Brescia, and on July 13, 1944 escaped to Milan.  On September 6 of that same year he was captured and, after a few skirmishes and intends to escape, on November 9, 1944 he is transferred to the concentration camp in Bolzano and then to the Mauthausen concentration camp, where he dies of pneumonia on April 1945.

Last updated: February 22, 2019

For more information on Giuseppe Pagano, please visit:
Giuseppe Pagano’s rationalist furniture” Italian Ways

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