Molteni Museum in Giussano pays tribute to the creativity of Aldo Rossi and the first project realised 40 years ago with his friend and colleague Luca Meda: the 1982 Teatro chair. The exhibition will remain open until 31 January 2024

With the new exhibition design by Ron Gilad and the scientific collaboration of the Fondazione Aldo Rossi, the Molteni Museum brings together for the first time the furniture, drawings, documents and visual and written testimonies of the collaboration between Aldo Rossi, winner of the 1990 Pritzker Prize, and the Molteni Group, materials from the Museum's collections and company archives.

A genial wood

The title of the exhibition is a quotation by Aldo Rossi from his text published in the volume AR 90, (Molteni&C, Giussano 1990) in which the architect poetically recalls the story of Pinocchio: "When I design a piece of furniture, I always remember that strange piece of wood that could have become a piece of furniture, then was destined to be a puppet, and finally became Pinocchio. Of course it was an ingenious piece of wood, but it is not excluded that these things happen."

A catalogue of architectural elements

An exchange that has led both to the creation of iconic and surprising pieces of furniture, such as the Parigi armchair (UniFor, 1989) and the Piroscafo cabinet (Molteni&C, 1992), and to pieces that are emblematic for their close relationship with Rossi's architecture. Among these are the Capitolo series (Molteni&C, 1982-1988), the Carteggio secretaire (Molteni&C, 1987), the Cartesio modular system (UniFor, 1994) and the Consiglio table (UniFor, 1991), which form a "catalogue of architectural elements" at the basis of Aldo Rossi's designs.

A historical memory

In other pieces, the architect's more poetic sense emerges, drawing on the memory of classical seating for the design of the Milano chair (Molteni&C, 1987), also inspired by the bone structure of the human or animal body. Again, with the Papyro desk (Molteni&C, 1989), Aldo Rossi builds an enveloping space around the figure, dedicated to study, reading and drawing. The Molteni&C and UniFor furniture on display are vintage editions of designs still in production or recently reissued or still out of print, but always present in the company's memory and in the Museum's collections.

Furniture out of time

In addition to the autobiographical, lyrical and playful thoughts that Aldo Rossi dedicated to each piece, the exhibition also recounts the exchange between the designer and the teams that interpreted thoughts and plans with him to realise the objects. The same ones who contributed to the execution of furniture designed specifically for Rossi's architectures (from the Carlo Felice Theatre in Genoa (1982-1996) to the Bonnefanten Museum in Maastricht (1990-1994) or to the construction of fittings for his personal exhibitions: from the Centre Pompidou in Paris to the De Beurs van Berlage Foundation in Amsterdam. An uninterrupted collaboration from 1979 to 1997, which continues today in the presence of these 'pieces of furniture or architecture', Rossi said, designed to remain out of time and 'not built for fashion'.

Between talk and documentary

The exhibition will be introduced by a talk by architectural historians Roberto Dulio (associate professor, Politecnico di Milano), with the talk From the chair to the city, and Claudia Tinazzi (researcher, Politecnico di Milano), with the talk A certain Lombard character. The documentary Aldo Rossi Design by Francesca Molteni and Mattia Colombo (Muse Factory of Projects, 2022) will also be presented. To book a visit click here.

Top: Aldo Rossi with the Parigi armchair, UniFor. UniFor Paris showroom, 1989, photo Federico Brunetti. Courtesy UniFor Archives.