The portal

Sketches, drawings, plans, project descriptions, patents, photographs, magazine articles, catalogues, and a few pieces of correspondence: these are the archival sources that narrate the whole professional life of Vico Magistretti from 1946, when shortly after graduating he took over his father's architecture firm on Via del Conservatorio, up to 2006, the year of his death. The archive also narrates a way of working, a method, because what has been conserved here (and therefore also what has been omitted as superfluous) met the professional needs of the firm of an architect who worked with a single assistant, surveyor Franco Montella, and who developed projects for his design activity together with the technical departments of the manufacturing companies, and for his architecture with engineering firms.

The process of creation of this portal began with Magistretti's works, both in architecture and design, obeying the criteria used by the firm to organise its archive throughout its activity: not precisely as archival records, then, but as the profiling of Magistretti's projects through archival materials. The compliance with the original order of the items can also be seen in the fact that amidst the documentation of certain projects there are sheets of sketches not pertaining to the project itself. We have focused on the relationships between the architecture and design projects revealed by the archive, unlocking the rigid cages that customarily confine Magistretti either to his architectural activity or to his work on product design; we have brought to light the relationships and collaborations with other professionals and with companies that cooperated with Vico for decades. For the design objects, we have chosen to include the starting date of production in the profiles, because the documents stored in the archives do not always allow us to correctly date the projects. In the timeline, the apparent contradictions that may arise between the date of a project and the decade in which it is placed are also the result of this choice.
We have optimised the navigability of the timeline to facilitate research on the part of different parties: from experts to those approaching Magistretti's work for the first time. We have developed authorial itineraries on themes that characterised and/or involved Magistretti's approach to design; here we suggest groupings of projects and works through key words that indicate and identify the main features/characteristics: proposing these paths or groupings - which are neither exhaustive nor final - we have set out to emphasise our aim of making this digital location into a research centre open to everyone.

Not all the material contained in the archive is in digital format: the projects not yet profiled appear in the timeline without cover images. The complete inventory can be downloaded in PDF form.
This project was set as a priority by the founding members of Fondazione Magistretti (Artemide, De Padova, Flou, Oluce, Schiffini and Triennale di Milano); the work began in 2014, and the results have been put online in 2020, with the contribution of Fondazione Cariplo.

Rosanna Pavoni
Scientific director Fondazione Vico Magistretti