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Portrait of Italian designer and architec Gaetano Pesce smilling with glassess

Gaetano Pesce

Italian architect and designer


“Let’s not be victims of culture; knowledge does not coincide with boredom.”

Gaetano Pesce

Gaetano Pesce (born November 8, 1939, La Spezia, Italy) is a leading contemporary Italian designer and architect. Unafraid to experiment with materials and color, Pesce has worked for some of Italy’s most prominent design companies, including Artemide, Vitra, Cassina, and B&B Italia.

Pesce was born in La Spezia, near Genoa, in 1939. He enrolled at the University of Venice in 1959 to pursue a degree in architecture and graduated in 1965.

During the final years of his studies, Pesce was also active in courses at the Venice College of Industrial Design, where he was influenced by its acclaimed faculty, including Ernesto Nathan Rogers and Mario Bellini. Channeling their encouragement to embrace novelty in modern design, Pesce pursued involvement with an avant-garde architectural collective that called itself “Gruppo N” and based its ideology on the streamlined aesthetic of the Bauhaus.

Thanks these various sources of inspiration, Pesce emerged from his studies ready to embrace the new materials of the day and the forms that were possible to create with these materials. Ranging from the diminutive decorative objects to the imposing architectural spaces, Pesce created designs that displayed a deep contemplation of the modern era. From his iconic La Mamma chair (1969), which emulated the form of a prehistoric fertility votive figure, to his Organic Building in Osaka, Japan (1993), which comprised one of the most impressive hanging garden motifs of the era to incorporate computer-monitored hydration, Pesce has consistently reinforced the depth of his design abilities by contemplating the role of art and design in our modern moment.

Up5 armchair and Up6 ottoman designed by Gaetano Pesce for B&B Italia in 1969 for Gaetano Pesce article
Up5 armchair & Up6 ottoman designed by Gaetano Pesce for B&B Italia (1969). At the Cité exhibition in Paris, 2019

His most well-known furniture designs include the Up-7 Piede, a large plastic lounge large chair in the form of a human foot (1969); the Up5 armchair a.k.a. La Donna or La Mamma and the Up6 ottoman for B&B Italia (1969); the Up1 armchair for C&B Italia (1971); the 357 Felti chair (1987) for Cassina; and the 543 Broadway chair, which was manufactured by Pesce in Bernini, Italy (1990).

White and blue Feltri chair designed by Gaetano Pesce in 1987 for Cassina
Feltri chair designed by Gaetano Pesce in 1987 for Cassina

In addition to his very prolific design career, Pesce has taught at prestigious institutions around the globe, including the Domus Academy in Milan, the University of Hong Kong, and The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York. His work has been showcased at an impressive array of international exhibitions, from “Italy: The New Domestic Landscape: Achievements and Problems of Italian Design” (1972) at New York’s Museum of Modern Art to “Kitchens & Invaders” (2015) at the VIII Triennale Design Museum in Stockholm, Sweden. Most recently, his work was showcased at the “Radical: Italian Design 1965-1985, The Dennis Freeman Collection.” at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (February 14, 2020–April 26, 2020). He has also been feted with numerous awards, including the Designer of the Year Award from A&W Architektur und Wohnen of Cologne, Germany, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Italian Cultural Institute of Los Angeles.

For more information on Gaetano Pesce, please visit “Gaetano Pesce” Cassina.

Last updated: February 8, 2020

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