With Rinascente, in search of a standard for interiors
Model housing units
How do you convince a potential buyer that the serial production of identical housing units (Residential cells and prefabrication path) - a key theme in Magistretti's designs - is not a limit, but on the contrary this domestic typology ensures quality living standards? You convince them by producing model units. Magistretti in fact used two mock-ups when he presented the MBM houses to the public (especially the towers in the Gallaratese neighbourhood). Studio A4 and Rossana Raboni Monzini were also involved in developing these model units, effectively revealing how Magistretti satisfied the client's request to involve partner companies. In June 1963 he turned to Cesare Cassina, leader of the Cassina company, to sound out his interest in developing economical serial furniture for his houses. The furniture in the apartment-types presented in 1968 was not only on display in the shop in Piazza Duomo, it was also illustrated in an article in Abitare, highlighting all the details of the specific furnishing solutions (Correspondence between Vico Magistretti and Cesare Cassina, 1963).
The collaboration with La Rinascente
The furniture in the apartment-types presented in 1968 was not only on display in the shop in Piazza Duomo, it was also illustrated in an article in Abitare, highlighting all the details of the specific furnishing solutions ("Una casa per tutti" in Abitare, 1968).
Rossana Monzini was asked to maintain the budget below 2.5 million lira which was cheap at the time; it covered the costs not only of all the furnishings, but also the accompanying items such as the curtain fabric or the numerous carpets. Magistretti's collaboration with La Rinascente included the design of a coat hanger, several closet elements, and a modular chest of drawers with lacquered wooden drawers, painted in several colours, which fitted in easily in several rooms. Thanks to this collaboration, the full-scale apartment (The apartment in old photographs) was an ingenious series of trendy solutions that included fold down beds and shelves, coat hangers in full view along walls screened by simple drapery, or multiuse tables with iconic folding chairs produced by Thonet in the early twentieth century. Instead the solution proposed by Studio A4 veered more towards avant-garde design; it used pieces of furniture designed - amongst others - by Cini Boeri, Superstudio and Magistretti, for example the white plastic Demetrio side tables designed for Artemide.
Furnishing solutions were also presented for the kitchen; the models exploited every centimetre of the very small space available by presenting pull-out trolleys that provided additional worktops.
Rosa Chiesa, Maria Manuela Leoni, Ali Filippini