Joe Cesare Colombo (1930–1971)

Joe Colombo was one of the most important designers in history. Colombo’s innovative productions included ‘micro-living-worlds’ and multi-functional objects.

Joe Colombo
Joe Colombo

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About his life

Joe Colombo, born Cesare Colombo (30 July 1930 – 30 July 1971) was an Italian industrial designer. He was educated at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera as a painter and studied until 1954 Architecture at Politecnico di Milano University. From 1951 to 1955, Joe Colombo worked independently as a painter and sculptor. He joined the ‘nuclear painting‘ movement and later became a founding member of the ‘art concrete‘ group.

Joe Colombo
Joe Colombo (1930-1971) ©IF-Studio Joe Colombo

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What are the main features of Colombo’s style?

In 1958 Colombo abandoned painting, but used the factory as a playground by experimenting with the latest production processes and newly developed plastics such as fibreglass, ABS, PVC and polyethylene. Concentrating on industrial design from 1962-1971 he believed that good domestic design had to be available to everyone. Colombo designed also products for OluceKartellBieffeAlessiFlexform and Boffi. He died in 1971 on his 41st birthday.

Tube Chair (1969)
Tube Chair (1969)-brown bicolor armchair Triennale Design Museum

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Tube Chair (1969)
Joe Colombo – Tube Chair – modularity and flexibility in modular structure Italy 1969 colorful

Image source: by Andrea Pavanello, Milano

In Colombo’s vision, people needed efficient living equipment that they could take with them in a society that was increasingly mobile, both physically and socially.

Museum of Modern Art (New York) installation
Museum of Modern Art (New York), in just 28 m2 of space, a kitchen, closets, beds, private area and bathroom, detail, 1972.

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Most famous

  • The Elda Chair for Longhi, 1963
  • Miniaturised kitchen for Boffi, 1963
  • Universale Chair for Kartell, 1965
  • Additional Living System for Sormani ,1967
  • The Tube Chair for Flexform, 1969
  • The Topo Lamp for Oluce, 1970
  • Boby trolley for B-line, 1970
  • The Brillio Chair for Zanotta, 1971
The Elda Chair for Longhi
The Elda Chair for Longhi, 1963
Universale Chair for Kartell, Colombo, 1965

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Boby trolley for B-line
Boby trolley for B-line, Colombo, 1970

image source:,_trolley_boby,_1970_ca.jpg

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