Late last year B&B Italia announced the re-edition of 20 products designed by Luigi Caccia Dominioni, the admired Italian designer and architect whose love of the Baroque movement’s expressive forms and beautiful details quietly shaped apartment buildings, theatres and public spaces in Milan during the post-WWII period. Acquiring this historic collection marks another step by B&B Italia to preserve Italy’s rich design heritage.
Graduating in 1936 from the Milan Polytechnic University Caccia Dominioni opened his first studio in the Porta Nuova district of Milan with fellow students Livio and Piergiacomo Castiglioni. Then in 1947 he cofounded the furniture brand Azucena with architects Ignazio Gardella and Corrado Corradi Dell’Acqua, dedicating himself to interior architecture and design in tune with Italy’s nationalistic values, which he explored through a classic approach refined by industrial inspired futurism.
Like design peers Livio, Achille and Piergiacomo Castiglioni, Franco Albini and Vico Magistretti, amongst others, the group produced furniture, lighting and objects as a complement to their architecture at a time when architects would design everything, from the structure of a building, to the furniture inside it.
"Before realising actual constructions, I clearly had to dedicate myself to furniture, an exercise that was very useful later,” Caccia Dominioni once remarked. "I actually first designed the furniture and, according to that, the house.”
At its height the Azucena collection included almost 150 objects, from lighting and furniture, to door hardware and accessories, all handmade by local artisans from Italy's Veneto and Lombardy regions.
Designed for buildings including the Teatro Filodrammatici, Corso Italia apartments and his own studio at Piazza Sant’Ambrogio, Caccia Dominioni produced the now iconic Catilina chair, admired for its blend of refined materials carefully reworked. According to Caccia Dominioni, Catilina was not designed for relaxation and letting go, but for thoughtfulness and elegance. The chair is named after the Roman senator, Lucio Sergio Catilina, its form a pared back nod to a medieval throne, or the horseshoe forms of classical Chinese furniture, described by the designer as “ethereal, no more than a series of curved iron bars."
Described by B&B Italia as a series of modern classics from the late 1940s onwards, the collection currently includes 20 chairs, sofas, tables and lamps that as a range symbolise the ‘made in Italy’ philosophy.
To celebrate the new collection, a film commissioned by B&B Italia and produced by Pin-Up magazine traces the lines and materiality of Caccia Dominioni’s interiors, including the architect’s own home and studio at Piazza Sant’Ambrogio. Here the ABCD armchair designed in 1960, the 1963 Cilindro ottoman, the 1973 Chinotto chair and Toro lounge chair were filmed inside Milanese buildings rich in materiality and sinuously crafted details characterised by iconic stairways that express the architect’s interest in how the flow of the human body can transform a space.
Luigi Caccia Dominioni who passed away at the age of 103 in 2016, was one of Italy’s most important architects and urbanists and one of the fathers of Italian design and the Milanese School. He received the highest of awards, the Compasso d’Oro, for both his career and for his contribution to Italian design. Leaving a subtle yet deep impact on the design fabric of Milan in particular, Caccia Dominioni is one of the city's favourite designers who helped establish Milan as the design world’s capital and whose legacy lives on.