Ignazio Gardella

Table of Contents

Ignazio Gardella, a renowned figure in the world of design and architecture, was born in 1905 in Milan. His life, style, and creations have left an indelible mark on the world. This article delves into his biography, his approach to design, and some of his notable works.

Early Life and Education

Ignazio Gardella embarked on his journey into the design world at an early age. Born into a lineage of architects, Gardella’s passion for the craft was ignited when he began sketching columns and moldings in books at age ten. Initially perceived as nothing more than child’s play, this seemingly innocent hobby would later prove to be the foundation upon which his career was built.

In 1931, Gardella obtained a degree in civil engineering in Milan. This grade solidified his technical expertise and gave him a strong base to develop his architectural prowess. However, his thirst for knowledge and artistic expression led him to pursue further education. In fact, he earned an architecture degree from the IUAV University in Venice.

He mentioned that his mentors were Le Corbusier and Alvar Aalto. Their profound influence on Gardella’s work can be seen in the blend of modernist principles and organic forms that characterize his architectural style.

Beyond his accomplishments as a student, Gardella’s contributions to architecture extended far beyond the classroom. From 1949 to 1975, he served as a professor at the IUAV for over two decades. This role not only allowed Gardella to shape the minds of future architects but also provided him with an opportunity for continuous growth and exploration in his practice.

The indelible mark left by Ignazio Gardella on the design world is a testament to his unwavering dedication and talent. His ability to blend technical precision with artistic expression has resulted in a work that inspires and captivates audiences. From his early beginnings as a child sketching in books to his influential role as an educator, Gardella’s journey is a powerful testament to the transformative power of passion and perseverance.

Career Milestones and Achievements

In 1949, Ignazio Gardella co-founded Azucena alongside the talented visionaries Corradi Dell’Acqua and Caccia Dominioni. Together, they embarked on a creative journey that would leave an indelible mark on the design world.

One of their first products, the iconic T4 table, showcased their innovative approach to furniture design. With its sleek lines and timeless elegance, it set the stage for Gardella’s future works.

Gardella’s brilliance was further recognized in 1953 when his works were showcased at the prestigious Italian Biennale in Stockholm, captivating audiences with his unique style and meticulous attention to detail. In 1955, he was honored with the Olivetti Award, a testament to his exceptional talent and contribution to Architecture.

One of Gardella’s most celebrated creations is the Digamma armchair, designed for Gavina in 1957. Its exquisite craftsmanship and ergonomic design made it an instant classic, captivating the hearts of design enthusiasts worldwide.

His creative genius extended beyond furniture design. In 1958, Gardella was entrusted with designing the canteen for Olivetti in Ivrea, infusing the space with his signature blend of functionality and aesthetic appeal. Additionally, he left his mark on the interiors of the Douglas DC-8 Alitalia airplane between 1958 and 1960, transforming it into a haven of style and comfort for travelers.

Olivetti Cantteen in Ivrea by Iganzio Gardella

In 1967, Gardella collaborated with visionary designer Anna Castelli to create a series of furniture pieces for Kartell. This collaboration brought forth cutting-edge designs that seamlessly blended form and function, leaving a lasting impact on the design world.

Gardella’s extraordinary contributions to design and architecture were duly recognized in 1996 when he received the first-class diploma from the President of the Italian Republic.

His journey as a designer and architect continues to inspire and uplift the design world. In fact, he left an indelible imprint on the creative landscape for generations to come.

Alitalias Douglas DC8 Interior

Ignazio Gardella Furniture: A Blend of Functionality and Elegance

Ignazio Gardella’s approach to design was not only distinctive and practical but also deeply thoughtful and rooted in a profound understanding of functionality. He believed that design should seamlessly respond to its intended use, blending form and purpose effortlessly.

Gardella’s furniture designs, which have become iconic in modern design, are characterized by clean profiles, structural simplicity, and a mesmerizing linear cadence. Each piece is meticulously crafted to ensure optimal functionality without compromising on aesthetics.

In his pursuit of functional perfection, Gardella never succumbed to the temptation of adding fantastical elements or unnecessary embellishments. Instead, he embraced a rigorous application of rational interpretation, allowing the essence of each design to shine through.

Take, for example, the Digamma armchair. Its sleek lines and ergonomic contours perfectly balance comfort and style. The T 4 table, on the other hand, captivates with its minimalist elegance and timeless appeal.

Gardella’s design philosophy continues to inspire and influence designers to this day. His unwavering dedication to functionality and ability to create designs that effortlessly blend into their intended environment makes him a true visionary in the design world.

Notable Design Projects by Ignazio Gardella

Below is a compilation of the most remarkable design projects by Ignazio Gardella:

The 1940s

  • Lib 1 bookshelf for Azucena (1948) – a stackable shelving system made of walnut with adjustable brass feet.

Lib 1 Bookshelf by Azucena

  • Dining Table for Azucena (1949) – A height-adjustable table with a telescopic iron base, adjustable brass parts, and a wooden top.

T5 Table by Ignazio Gardella for Azucena

The 1950s

  • Lte 3 floor lamp for Azucena (1950) – a height-adjustable floor lamp with a jointed reflector made of shiny brass or painted aluminum, with a telescopic brass rod and a marble base.

Lte 3 Lamp by Azucena

  • T1 dining table for Azucena (1952) – a round table with a wooden top, a painted iron base, and adjustable brass feet.

T1 Table by Ignazio Gardella for Azucena

  • LP 5 wall lamp for Azucena (1954) – a wall lamp with a pressed glass reflector, brass arm, and shiny brass plate.

LP5 Lamp by Ignazio Gardella for Azucena

  • Imbuto floor lamp, designed with Luigi Caccia Dominioni for Azucena (1954) – a floor lamp.

Imbuto Lamp by Ignazio Gardella and Luigi Caccia Dominioni for Azucena

  • Lib 2 bookshelf for Azucena (1955) – a wall library with iron uprights and wooden and brass shelves.

Lib 2 Bookshelf by Azucena

  • Lp 7 wall lamp for Azucena (1955) – a wall lamp with a diffuser made of two matching glasses and a shiny brass mount.

LP7 Lamp by Azucena

  • T4 dining table for Azucena (1956) – an extendable table with a steel frame finished in brass wooden top.

T4 Table by Azucena

  • Lte 8 floor lamp for Azucena (1956) – a floor lamp with a reflector made of pressed glass cups and Arenzano, a table lamp with a brass frame and opal glass bell.

Lte 8 Lamp by Azucena

  • Digamma armchair Gavina (1957)for  – an armchair with a variable position backrest.

Digamma Armchair by Ignazio Gardella for Gavina

  • Pagoda wall lamp for Azucena (1958) – a wall lamp with an aluminum reflector, painted iron stem with a swivel setting.

Pagoda Lamp by Azucena

  • Ceiling lamp for Azucena (1958) – A ceiling lamp consisting of white opaline glass diffusers connected by several arms to the central stem. It reinterprets the classic Venetian chandelier with multiple lights in a modern key.

Azucena Ceiling Lamp bY Ignazio Gardella

  • Paolina ceiling lamp for Azucena (1958) – a ceiling lamp in opaline glass, with a pressed glass screen, internally supported.

Paolina Ceiling Lamp by Azucena

The 1960s

  • Lte 12 floor lamp for Azucena (1960) – a floor lamp with a shiny brass structure, poplin diffuser, and marble base.

Lte 12 Lamp by Azucena

  • Lp 12 A wall lamp for Azucena (1960) – a wall lamp with polished brass support, white opaline glass diffuser

Lp 12 A Lamp by Azucena

  • R 63 armchair for Azucena (1963) – an armchair with a wooden structure completely covered in leather.

R63 Armchair by Ignazio Gardella for Azucena

  • Lido armchair for Azucena (1966) – a single-volume armchair covered in leather.

Lido Armchair by Azucena

  • Lsp 8 ceiling lamp for Azucena (1966) – a ceiling light with a gray metallic aluminum mount attached to the diffuser with brass pins.

LSP 8 Lamp by Azucena

  • 4991 dining table, designed with Anna Castelli Ferrieri for Kartell (1967) – a round table in reinforced polyester resin, made with two components.

4991 Table by Kartell

  • 4997 dining table, designed with Anna Castelli Ferrieri for Kartell (1969) – a dining table with multiple detachable elements, printed in fiberglass.

Kartell 4854 Dining Chair and 4997 Table

The 1970s and 1980s

  • 4550 bed, designed with Anna Castelli Ferrieri for Kartell (1972) – a traditional-looking bed, made by combining three modular parts, two of which are identical, printed in reinforced polyester.

4550 Bed by Kartell

  • Idillio dining table for Misura Emme (1985) – The formal cleanliness typical of Gardella’s design also characterizes this table, with a marble top. A new mechanism allows the coplanar extension of the top.

Idillio Table by Ignazio Gardella for Misuraemme

  • Partenio dining table for Misura Emme (1985) – A new technology is applied to this table, specifically designed to extend and align marble tops.

Partenio Table by Misuraemme

  • Epillio sideboard for Misura Emme (1985) – The sideboard, produced in polyester lacquered wood, comprises finished elements that can be placed next to each other, connected by shelves and drawers.

Epillio Sideboard by Misuraemme

  • Pindaro bed and Corinna nightstand for Misura Emme (1985) – bed and bedside table made of rounded wood with perforated footboard and headboard.

Pindaro Bed and Corinna Nightstand by Misuraemme

Architectural Masterpieces of Ignazio Gardella

While Gardella’s furniture designs have significantly impacted the world of modern design, his architectural projects are equally noteworthy. Here are some of the major projects from his illustrious career:

  • 1933-36: Expansion of Villa Borletti in Milan
  • 1934: Unimplemented competition project for the Lictorian Tower in Piazza del Duomo in Milan
  • 1934-38: Tuberculosis dispensary in Alessandria
  • 1937-39: Provincial Laboratory of health and prevention in Alessandria
  • 1944: Drafting of the Milan-Verde plan (collaboration with the Casabella magazine group, including Franco Albini and others)
  • 1946-53: Casa Tognella, also known as Casa al Parco, in Milan
  • 1947: Casa del Viticultore
  • 1947-54: Pavilion of Contemporary Art in Milan (PAC)
  • 1950-52: “Mangiagalli” district in Milan (with Franco Albini)

Tognella House, Milan

Viticultore House

Mangiagalli District, Milan by Ignazio Gardella and Franco Albini

  • 1952: Borsalino Houses in Alessandria
  • 1953-58: House on the Zattere in Venice
  • 1954-59: Church and parish buildings in Cesate (with Anna Castelli Ferrieri)
  • 1958: Olivetti company canteen in Ivrea’s industrial complex
  • 1962-1966: Cala del Pozzo residential complex near Punta Ala’s tourist port
  • 1963-94: Courthouse in La Spezia
  • 1964-65: Church of Sant’Enrico in San Donato Milanese
  • 1965-69: Church of San Nicolao della Flue in Milan
  • 1968-1972: Residential building, Via Zara 38, Genoa

Borsalino Houses, Alessandria

Cicogna House, Le Zattere, Venice by Ignazio Gardella

San Francesco Church in Cesate by Ignazio Gardella and Anna Castelli Ferrieri

La Spezia Courthouse

  • 1969: Alfa Romeo office in Arese (with Anna Castelli Ferrieri and Jacopo Gardella)
  • 1969: Unimplemented project for the theatre in Vicenza
  • 1969: Parish complex and Church of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist in Macchitella, Gela (with Anna Castelli Ferrieri)
  • 1969-75: Detailed plan of the San Donato and San Silvestro area in Genoa
  • 1975-89: Faculty of Architecture in Genoa
  • 1981-90: Carlo Felice Theatre in Genoa (with Aldo Rossi, Fabio Reinhart, and Angelo Sibilla)
  • 1993: Esselunga Palace in Sesto Fiorentino
  • 1996-99: Administrative Headquarters in Biella (with Fabio Nonis, Carlo Alberto Maggiore, Clara Martinato)

Alfa Romeo Office in Arese

Faculty of Architecture in Genoa by Ignazio Gardella

Esselunga Palace in Sesto Fiorentino

Legacy and Influence

Ignazio Gardella left an indelible mark on the design world with his innovative and functional creations. Gardella dedicated his life to pushing the boundaries of design, striving to assert the entity of reason in every project.

Throughout his career, Gardella’s designs showcased his deep understanding of modern culture and his unwavering belief in the power of reason as a driving force in design. His furniture continues to captivate and inspire designers worldwide, a testament to his enduring legacy.

Gardella’s approach to design went beyond mere aesthetics; it was a philosophy that aimed to revolutionize the way we perceive and understand design. His works, more than just objects, serve as symbols of a modernist design philosophy that continues to resonate in today’s world.

Sadly, Ignazio Gardella passed away in Milan in 1999, but his contribution to the design and architecture world remains celebrated. His life and work continue to inspire countless designers, making him an enduring figure in the field.

In conclusion, Ignazio Gardella’s legacy goes beyond being a designer or architect; he was a visionary who forever changed the design landscape. His attention to detail, commitment to functionality, and profound understanding of modern culture make him an icon in design.

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