Italian designer and architect
Carlo Scarpa (born June 2, 1906, Venice, Italy–died November 28, 1978, Sendai, Japan) was an Italian designer and architect influenced by the materials, landscape, Venetian and Japanese cultures, and Modernism. He turned his knowledge and interest in history, regionalism, and craftsmanship into ingenious glass and furniture designs; and his architecture reflects a deep awareness of the steep marks of history, and a masterful attention to detail and integration of ancient crafts within a clearly modern aesthetic.
When Carlo Scarpa was 2 years old, the family moved to Vicenza, Italy, where he spent most of his childhood. In 1919, when his mother died, the family moved back to Venice and Carlo enrolled in the Royal Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia. In 1926, he was certified in Architectural Design and until 1931 he worked in the Venetian studio of architect Guido Cirilli.
He started collaborating with Venini in 1932, and later became its artistic director until 1946. It was through his work with the glassblowers at Venini, that he deepened his understanding of the role that traditional crafts should have in contemporary architecture and design. Despite apprenticing with architect Francesco Rinaldo, Scarpa did not officially graduate as an architect, as he refused to take the professional exam from the Italian government after World War II. As a consequence, during his entire architectural practice he was forced to work with a licensed architect for all of his projects. read more
Carlo Scarpa main furniture and product contributions:
Through his collaboration with Venini, Carlo Scarpa designed numerous glass objects and lamps, that, to this date, routinely demand the attention of design enthusiast and museums. Although glass was the primary focus of his product design practice while at Venini from 1932 until 1946, Scarpa also created other furnishing designs such as the 618 chair for Meritalia (1964); the Delfi terrazzo table, in collaboration with Marcel Breuer, manufactured by Simon (1969); the Samo marble table manufactured by Simon (1970); and the Kentucky chair for Bernini (1977).
Carlo Scarpa important architectural contributions:
Between 1935 and 1937, Scarpa worked on his first transformational architectural work, the intervention at the Ca’ Foscari in Venice, home of the homonymous university. This work, for which he had a second intervention between 1955 and 1957, but which was later tampered with, turned out to be one of the most innovative restoration projects of that period, and won him national and international recognition.
From the mid 1940s until his death in 1978, Scarpa taught drawing and interior decoration at the Istituto Universitario di Architettura di Venezia. While most of his built work is located in the Veneto, he also designed landscapes, gardens, and buildings across Italy as well as in Canada, the United States, Saudi Arabia, France, and Switzerland.
Among Scarpa’s most notable architectural and designs are the reinforcing and intervention at the Palazzo Attabelis in Palermo (1953-1954), the Olivetti Showroom in Venice (1958), the Museo di Castelvecchio in Verona (1956–1964), the Fondazione Querini Stampalia (Venice 1961–1963), and the Brion Tomb and Sanctuary in San Vito d’Altivole (1969–1978).
Carlo Scarpa was very interested in Japan, its culture, and, specifically, in the Japanese design sensitivity. He first traveled to Japan in 1969, but during his second trip in 1978, he died of an accident in Sendai.
Last updated: October 17, 2019
For more information on Carlo Scarpa, please go to Biography of Scarpa at Cooper Hewitt
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