Carlo Mollino — Architect, Designer and Photographer

SLIDESHOW: Carlo Mollino: “That flash of inspiration that transforms a construction into a work of art.”

Carlo Mollino’s designs are based on the principles of liberty, freedom of thought and expression.

Turin-born Carlo Mollino (1905–1973) was an immense architect of life. He was an aesthete who ventured deep into the research of form; his fascination with the feminine body inspired his “female furniture” where materials were wedded to curves. It was something so obvious that it took a genius to see it. He spoke of it as if it were almost a supernatural necessity. “The only thing that worries me is how to use expression as a means of calming my obsession with those forms, which remain a mystery until you have finally finished shaping them the way you wanted them — and the way you felt was right and inevitable,” he wrote in 1940.

Mollino’s life was an epic saga. He dreamed more than he lived, turning each daily event into an adventure. His work embodies an intense artistic emotion and follows an atypical course, marked by phases where he magically reinvents himself as an architect, but also as a skier, designer, race-car builder or photographer. The common denominator here is a principle of liberty, freedom of thought and expression. “If I had to build a house, I’d start from the principle of letting my spirit remain free to imagine and evolve, while taking into account as little as possible my current taste, conscious that the platonic work sphere always ends up coinciding with current stylistic taste. But we are talking here about not compromising one’s future poetic creation — which is different from one’s current creation – out of arrogance that stems from a certain environment.” He wrote this in a letter illustrated with drawings of his ideal house, after a request sent by the magazine Domus to several architects in 1942.

He was a magician and a dreamer. Working with one of the most beautiful Egyptology museums, in Turin, he allowed himself the luxury of dreaming of his life and building his own death, like a pharaoh. He often said that when he received visitors at his Turin house he took them out to the balcony from where they could see the Pô River. He would point toward the water and the two trees that stood opposite the house, telling guests that “life was water running between two trees, nothing more”. He early on became aware of this short time, which prompted him to wonder how to take advantage of it, how to create. His furniture creations are illustrations of this, with their effervescence and incredible joie de vivre. His creativity was always a bit mad.

He shot thousands of Polaroid photographs of nude women on his furniture or in his house. And like those Egyptian females who were buried with the pharaohs, all these photos went with him into the great beyond.

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Teatro Regio, 1973. Courtesy Museo Casa Mollino. Torino.

Teatro Regio, 1973. Courtesy Museo Casa Mollino. Torino.

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Casa Rivetti, 1949. Courtesy Museo Casa Mollino. Torino.

Casa Rivetti, 1949. Courtesy Museo Casa Mollino. Torino.

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Casa Mollino, circa. 1968. Photo Adam Bartos, crédit: Courtesy Museo Casa Mollino. Torino.

Casa Mollino, circa. 1968. Photo Adam Bartos, crédit: Courtesy Museo Casa Mollino. Torino.

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Anonyme. Courtesy Museo Casa Mollino. Torino.

Anonyme. Courtesy Museo Casa Mollino. Torino.

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