Italian architect and designer, Marco Zanuso (1916-2001) born in Milan, was one of the postwar designers shaping the international idea of “good design.” After receiving his degree in architecture at the Politecnico di Milano, he began his career as an architect, designer and city planner. Additionally, Zanuso was editor-in-chief of Domus magazine, the preeminent publication on architecture and design founded by Gio Ponti in 1928, from 1947-1949. As one of the leaders in the Italian Modern Movement he was a pioneer in furniture design, working with metal tubing and creating a new joining mechanism that allowed a fabric seat to be suspended from a tubular steel frame.
In the late 1940s, Zanuso began collaborating with Arflex, an Italian manufacturing company, to create a furniture collection using a newly developed polyurethane foam and elastic tape. It was for Arflex, he designed a series of pieces that would become icons of the modernist movement, among them, the Lady Armchair (1951) and the Sleep-o-matic sofa (1954). Between 1957-1959, Zanuso began collaborating with German industrial designer Richard Saper. It was with Saper, he created work devoted to the relationship of the user to the object. Together they pioneered a new aesthetic known as techno-functionalism, designing objects such as the Grillo telephone (1966) and the Brionvega (1962), the first fully-transistor television. These pieces were characterized by bright colors, synthetic materials and sculptural shapes. Zanuso’s work can be found in museums throughout the world including MoMA, the Met and the Triennale in Milan.
One of Zanuso’s iconic pieces, the “Lady” lounge chair (1951), was the first armchair to incorporate expanded polyurethane and foam rubber. The armchair showcased a new system of springing, while the slender brass, slim-line legs suspend the body of the chair in an animated fashion.
Forward-thinking Zanuso designed this “Sleep-o-Matic” sofa (1954) for Arflex with an internal metal mechanism that can easily be opened to become a sofa bed. Tubular metal structure with foam rubber padding.