portrait of andrea branzi © designboom



we met andrea branzi in his milanese studio on february 21, 2003.



designboom (DB): what is the best moment of the day?


andrea branzi (AB): either the morning when it’s time to start working, or the afternoon when it’s time to start working.


DB: what kind of music do you listen to at the moment?


AB: since I read chet baker’s biography, I listen to miles davis, chet baker or keith jarrett, who I find interesting because of the link with philip glass’s music, which I often use when I give talks. I’m not a very sophisticated listener — I don’t know that much about music itself, but I link music to theoretical problems, which can be exemplified by music.

designboom interviews andrea branzi in his milanese studio in 2003
left: ‘weak urbanization’ for eindhoven city project for philips, 2000
right: ‘passaggi’ lamp, manufactured by design gallery milano 1998



DB: do you listen to the radio?


AB: yes in my car, but not in my office unless my daughter is on. she is a DJ on a radio program. I don’t listen to the radio while I’m working.


DB: what books do you have on your bedside table?


AB: history, and above all biographies. I’m interested in reading people’s accounts of their lives, whoever they are.


DB: do you read design magazines?


AB: no, never.

designboom interviews andrea branzi in his milanese studio in 2003
‘no stop city’ design archizoom associati, 1970



DB: where do you get news from? newspapers?


AB: newspapers, TV, magazines


DB: do you notice how women are dressing? do you have any preferences?


AB: I look at women, although I don’t have any set ideas about how they should dress.


DB: what kind of clothes do you avoid wearing?


AB: it depends, I don’t have any taboos. tuxedos, although nobody wears them nowadays.

designboom interviews andrea branzi in his milanese studio in 2003
‘no stop city’ design archizoom associati, 1970



DB: do you have any pets?


AB: yes I have two jack russells — two medium sized nice dogs.


DB: when you were a child, what did you want to be?


AB: to follow my creative instincts. I was interested in art, art history, painting. I was an child prodigy in architecture…


DB: where do you work on your designs and projects?


AB: physically, I draw at my desk, but in reality it is the result of a reflection that I carry out even in the most unsuitable places, which are also extremely stimulating.

designboom interviews andrea branzi in his milanese studio in 2003
‘amnesie’, manufactured by design gallery milano, 1991



DB: who would you like to design something for?


AB: nobody. I don’t have a particular client I’d like to design for. I an interested in having what I do please me, and a small circle of people. I don’t have professional ambitions other than this.


DB: do you discuss your work with architects and designers?


AB: yes, very much

designboom interviews andrea branzi in his milanese studio in 2003
left: ‘foglie’ lamp,manufactured by memphis, 1988
right: ‘century’, chaise lounge, 1982



DB: describe your style, like a good friend of yours would describe it.


AB: andrea branzi is a person who deals with theoretical physics, and sees architecture not as the art of building but as a much more articulated form of thought. I work alternating between theoretical research and practical designing.


DB: from archizoom, radical architecture, alchimia… to your most recent works, can you tell us if there is an evolution in your thinking and your way of dealing with work?


AB: no, I’ve always been inside this profile, which corresponds to my personal attitudes. I try to carry our designing as a form of reflection, an evolved form of thought, also as a knowable category. the core of my work is not architecture per se, a discipline per se — I’m interested in architecture and the discipline because of its tight bond with knowledge. for example, at the moment I am reconstructing the path from radical architecture to today. I defined modernity in the 21st century as weak and diffuse. we have passed form a strong, concentrated modernity to a weak and diffused modernity, which is characteristic of our time. this sort of attitude of knowing the era in which we live through design, not only through books, but through design, is what has characterized my work from the late 70s to now. it has been full of changes but also a unified whole.

designboom interviews andrea branzi in his milanese studio in 2003
‘axale’ sofa,manufactured by cassina 1988



DB: which of your work has given you the most satisfaction?


AB: 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. 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.


DB: is there any designer and/or architect from the past you appreciate a lot?


AB: I’m not terribly interested in the history of modern architecture because I feel so involved in it. in the deeper history…filippo brunelleschi. his invention of the classical turning within the medieval culture crisis gave birth to the role of the project and the esthetic research as a system for holding a civilization, which was falling apart, together. the role of dry, sudden, ingenious invention by brunelleschi made all renaissance architecture possible.

designboom interviews andrea branzi in his milanese studio in 2003
‘reverse’ chair, manufactured by cassina 1993



DB: and those still active, are there any particular ones you appreciate?


AB: at the moment, I have a particular relationship with toyo ito because I am interested in his work within this hypothesis of a weak and diffuse modernity that in contemporary japan is taking form in his work, and of shigeru ban. this development that I call post-kobe, that is post- kobe-earthquake, the disintegration of these heavy megalopolises, the generation lead by toyo ito has followed the path of a much lighter, more elastic, more transparent and crossable modernity. toyo ito, like many others, recognizes his origins in our movement. even deconstructionists like frank gehry and daniel libeskind are set within this line that started in the late 60s and faced the crisis of contemporary architecture with positive, evolutionary and knowable intentions rather than as a crisis of a historical discipline. we live in permanent uncertainty, and uncertainty has always existed, for those who have known how to interpret it, as an extraordinary occasion. when I cited brunelleschi before, he was the very first architect who accepted living in a cultural system that no longer had a foundation. he reconstructed this classical code which had disappeared from the face of the earth for 12 centuries. thus he accepted that all of the planning apparatus was based on nothing.-here we have a similar situation. europe has come out of the 20th century with a series of failures, there is no trace of the theorems that characterized it, modernity has gone in a completely different direction from the one that european rationalism had hoped for. artists are the saviors of the 20th century. this is an extraordinary occasion for an enormous renovation of the project on an experimental basis, based on research.


DB: any advice for the young?


AB: I have no advice to give. in fact I hope that they can give me advice. the only thing is that they have the capacity for autonomy, especially from professors. autonomy is the most amusing thing, thus to have fun making architecture and design that now can also be a ferociously boring profession, since it is based on purely professional ambitions. I wouldn’t wish this on any living being.


DB: what are you afraid of regarding the future?


AB: I have no fear for the future. the world, society has continued on positively and in an extraordinary manner with respect to the mistaken predictions that were made. then again in history one finds what one has inside. I think that humans have a positive attitude. we’ll see what happens…



designboom interviews andrea branzi in his milanese studio in 2003