Opened in 2010, the Fondazione Vico Magistretti was established to share the history and collection of one of Italy's great designers – and the processes and stories behind some of the world's most recognisable designs. The Vico Magistretti studio museum foundation was set up as an equity foundation, organised and headed by Susanna Magistretti, the architect’s daughter, with founding partner the Triennale Design Museum of Milan.
Vico Magistretti was an architect and industrial designer with a passion for materials and the innovations offered by mass production. He had longstanding partnerships with Italian manufacturers including Cassina, Serralunga and Kartell, who re-launched his Maui chair in Milan this year, and was known for his versatility and ability to problem solve. For Magistretti, the approach to design was taken with scientific rigour and he was sought out as a teacher at major European design institutions and received many internationally recognised design accolades including two Compasso d’Oro awards.
The foundation's home is based at Vico Magistretti's studio where he worked from 1946 to 2006 after inheriting it from his father, the architect Pier Giulio Magistretti. The studio has been modernised and restructured so that it could be opened to visitors who come from Italy, Spain, Great Britain, France, Germany, Japan and Korea. Today the studio-museum sits between its original role as a design studio in tune with its new role as a museum.
The promotion of Italian architecture and design, both nationally and internationally, is gaining momentum (and support) in Italy from both local institutions, museums and also the general public. Foundations are important for preserving but also opening up conversations through the history and stories of design. Joining the like-minded Castiglioni Foundation, also in Milan, they give visitors a rare glimpse inside studios where designers and architects worked for their entire careers.
Inside the museum, the large entrance room displays a selection of archival objects and sketches, the meeting room is the original place where Magistretti would welcome guests and clients and now serves as a study room, while Magistretti’s office accommodates the foundation’s curator and conservation expert. In the basement the Magistretti archive is open to scholars, students and researchers interested in studying the architect’s work and some of his projects in greater depth.
In its historical context, the role of Fondazione Vico Magistretti is to safeguard and enhance the archive, and with it, Vico Magistretti’s work. It provides a permanent non-profit institution that is open to the public, carries out research, conserves work, communicates the history and holds regular exhibitions. The focus of the foundation is on displaying artefacts designed by the architect counterpointed by the design process which led to their creation through archival documents.
Recent exhibitions by the foundation include Svicolando at the Conservatorium of Music 'G.Verdi' Milan, Thinking with hands, and the foundation's latest project My Magistretti, an international call for photographs that show how Vico's objects form a part of so many lives around the world. Everyone who owns a piece by the great designer, whether it's new, collected or found, can share their story with the foundation. An exhibition of all of the photos submitted will go on show from the 16 October 2012 until the 8 April 2013.
The Vico Magistretti studio-museum is open to the public Tueday from 2-6pm, Thursday 2-8pm, and Saturday 2-6pm. A reservation is required on Saturday and group visits are by appointment only.