“The possibilities presented by the extraordinary development of audiovisual processes are enormous…… Distances will no longer have much importance; no longer will there be any justification for the ‘megalopolis’….Furnishings will disappear…the habitat will be everywhere… Now, if the elements necessary to human existence could be planned with the sole requirements of maneuverability and flexibility…, then we would create an inhabitable system that could be adapted to any situation in space and time…” Joe Colombo
Joe Colombo (1930-1971) was one of the most radical Italian industrial designer, indeed. In the years after he studied at Brera Academy of Fine Art (following classes of painting and sculpture) he became part of the avant-garde scene of the “Nuclear Movement” of painters who sought after a new artistic inspiration in the 1950’s anxiety for the atomic bomb. His forthcoming interest in the design for the future was already latent in his early sketches of “nuclear cities”, with space shuttles airways and subterranean metropolis with layers for storage, transportation and living. Despite his outrageous visions he was a prolific product designer and an architect during all his life, with many realizations in the domain of commercial furnitures and appliances. His aesthetics built on the theory that “we will have to make the home live for us, for our needs, for a new way of living more consistent with the reality of today and tomorrow.”
Plastic was his material of choice: in the 70’s he started designing self-contained plastic units providing all the services of a room. A new society was born, “habits change, the interior of rooms has to change with them.” A new kind of domestic living has to be carried out accordingly : “all the objects needed in a house should be integrated with the usable spaces; hence, they no longer have to be called furnishings but ‘equipment.'”
The two best examples of these “dynamic pieces of furniture” were the 1963 “Mini-kitchen” and the 1971 “Total Furnishing Unit”, presented at the seminal 1972 Moma exhibition “Italy, the new domestic landscape“, and which breaks domestic living into a simple set of functions carried out within a modular Kitchen, Cupboard, Bed and Bathroom.
Instead of individual pieces of furniture, these objects constituted entire seamless environments for living, completely “autonomous, independent of (their) architectural container, and that can be coordinated and programmed to adapt in any spatial situation, in the present or future.”
Biographical informations and quotes via R Gallery.
Related (already on Socks):
ETTORE SOTTSASS JR., MOBILE AND FLEXIBLE ENVIRONMENT MODULE, 1972