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Osvaldo Borsani

Osvaldo Borsani

Diseñador italiano Osvaldo Borsani

Biography

Osvaldo Borsani (1911) was born in Varedo, Italy. The son of a furniture craftsman, he began at a very young age, in his father's workshop, to design pieces using fine materials. He studied architecture at the Polytechnic University of Milan, showing great interest in decoration and interior design.

In 1933, while still a student, he won the silver medal at the 5th Milan Triennale with the project The Minimal House, a rationalist-inspired housing design. This success allowed him more influence over the family business and more freedom to experiment with new design ideas and technologies.

Between 1939 and 1945 he worked on the design and construction of what would become his lifelong home, Villa Borsani, an amalgam of 20th century Italian design encompassing pre-war craftsmanship and post-war technology, with decoration taking centre stage.

In 1953, together with his twin brother Fulgenzio, Borsani founded Tecno, a design and manufacturing company to which he would devote his career. Tecno became a centre of design research and technology, and the birthplace of a number of iconic 20th century pieces.

For the 1968 Triennale, Borsani, together with Eugenio Gerli, presented Graphis, the first office furniture system offering unlimited and flexible combinations of elements that could adapt and grow. This product marks the definitive shift to industrial production.

In 1970, Borsani, Marco Fantoni and Valeria Borsani set up Centro Progetti Tecno, a design centre for experimenting with new technologies and developing new products, as well as tackling large interior design commissions.

In the 1980s, Borsani opened Tecno to external designers: Gae Aulenti, Roberto Mango, Eugenio Emilio Ambasz, Norman Foster, Vico Magistretti, Carlo de Carli, Mario Bellini and Robin Day.

Osvaldo Borsani died in Milan in 1985. Some of his designs were not produced until after his death and others, from his first period with Tecno, can be found in museums in New York, Paris and London.

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