andrea branzi, visionary italian architect, designer and academic, dies at 84

andrea branzi, visionary italian architect, designer and academic, dies at 84

Andrea Branzi passes away at 84

 

Andrea Branzi, an Italian architect, designer, and educator known for his significant contributions to the fields of architecture, industrial design, and urban planning, has died at the age of 84.

 

Branzi began his architectural journey at the Florence School of Architecture, where he earned his degree in 1966. During the 1960s and early 1970s, Branzi founded Archizoom Associati together with Gilberto Corretti, Paolo Deganello, and Massimo Morozzi, an experimental design group known for its groundbreaking projects, including the visionary No-Stop-City, an unbuilt project presenting an urban utopia where the architectural form disappears and only the essential remains.

andrea branzi, visionary italian architect, designer and academic, dies at 84
Andrea Branzi portrait | image © designboom

 

 

Andrea Branzi’s Architectural and Design Journey

 

A project that was of great importance for me, but also for my generation, for many artists that came afterwards was the No-Stop-City project,’ Branzi told designboom in 2003. ‘A fluid metropolis, where even the concept of modernity within order changes towards an idea of uncontrollable complexity and a world destined to a huge diversification. Today I see that this type of scenario is appreciated, shared by famous contemporary architects who recognize the radical movement and the No-Stop City project to be a genetic event, which intercepted a development in the culture of the project, becoming an example within the project itself.’

andrea branzi, visionary italian architect, designer, and academic, dies at 84
No-Stop City (1970) by Archizoom Associati

 

 

Some of Andrea Branzi’s notable furniture designs include the Superonda sofa (1966), the Mies chair (1968), and the modular Safari sofa (1968). These pieces were created with the intention of challenging conventional notions of how we use and interact with furniture. Later, he played a significant role in Studio Alchimia, founded in 1976, and collaborated with the Memphis Group in the early 1980s. In the mid-1980s, Branzi shifted his design approach away from the highly stylized aesthetics of postmodernism and embraced what he termed ‘neoprimitivism,’ blending elements of nature and artificiality. The pieces featured raw sections of trees integrated into sleek and minimalist tables, chairs, and benches, all characterized by a grayscale color palette.

This iconic style is evident in his recent work at Friedman Benda, where he continues to explore the contrast between commodified and natural elements, as well as the interplay between gestural and systematic design, handmade and industrial production, and the relationship between landscape and architecture. Branzi’s impact extends beyond his design work. He co-founded Domus Academy, the first international post-graduate design school, and served as a professor and chairman of the School of Interior Design at the Politecnico di Milano until 2009. 

andrea branzi, visionary italian architect, designer, and academic, dies at 84
Domestic Animals Bench (1985) by Andrea & Nicoletta Branzi | image courtesy of Wright

 

 

In more recent years, Branzi’s designs have evolved into personal objects with a fragmented composition and subtle Yiddish irony. These designs reflect his ongoing exploration of innovative concepts and aesthetics in the world of furniture and object design. His portfolio also includes whimsical birdhouses, such as the Voliere series from 2016, while his creative partnerships extended to galleries like Nero Design Gallery and Nilufar. Branzi has received several awards throughout his career, including three Compasso d’Oro, honored for individual or group effort in 1979, 1987, and 1995. Additionally, he received the title of Honorary Royal Designer in the United Kingdom in 2008 and an honorary degree from La Sapienza in Rome. His work was also featured in an installation at the Fondation Cartier in Paris in the same year.

In 2018, Branzi received the prestigious Rolf Schock Prize in Visual Arts from the Swedish Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Just last week, Branzi unveiled his latest exhibition, L’architettura appartiene al Teatro at Antonia Jannone’s Milan gallery. The exhibition showcases a collection of drawings that examine cultural and architectural archetypes. Andrea Branzi’s design legacy endures, with his works held in the permanent collections of esteemed institutions like the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, among others. 

andrea branzi, visionary italian architect, designer, and academic, dies at 84
Safari Sofa (1967) by Archizoom Associati | image courtesy of Poltronova

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‘Mies’ armchair and footrest (1969) by Archizoom Associati | image courtesy of Poltronova

andrea branzi, visionary italian architect, designer and academic, dies at 84
Century Sofa (1982) by Andrea Branzi for the Memphis group | image courtesy of Wright

andrea branzi, visionary italian architect, designer and academic, dies at 84
Selz chair (1980) by Alchimia

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Superonda Sofa (1967) by Archizoom Associati | image courtesy of Poltronova

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