He called himself the 'upholsterer', but Dino Gavina - enlightened entrepreneur, multifaceted character, ingenious and avant-garde patron - was much more. Born in 1922 - the centenary of his birth is celebrated on 7 November - he liked, above all, to define himself as 'subversive'. Just when design was being born, among more or less acclaimed masters, Brianza companies and icons that will be destined to end up in homes and museums, his figure as an industrialist will mark Italian design, precisely for having revolutionized the field of furniture, lighting, street furniture.
He called himself the 'upholsterer', but Dino Gavina - enlightened entrepreneur, multifaceted character, ingenious and avant-garde patron - was much more. Born in 1922-the centenary of his birth di lui is celebrated on 7 November- he liked, above all, to define himself as 'subversive'. Just when design was being born, among more or less acclaimed masters, Brianza companies and icons that will be destined to end up in homes and museums, his figure as an industrialist will mark Italian design , precisely for having revolutionized the field of furniture, lighting, street furniture.
Dino Gavina and the Castiglioni brothers
Legend has it that Gavina entered the Triennale from the main entrance in '57, after being initially moved away, carrying an armchair designed by the architect Ignazio Gardella on his shoulders up to the Hall of Honor. It is there that Digamma was born, the first piece of Gavina's entrepreneurial adventure, and also his reputation as a rebel. “Gavina is a precursor and a pioneer: he is the first to do anonymous design, a passion that Pier Giacomo and Achille Castiglioni transmit to him”. In the 1960s it was they who designed the exhibition space in San Lazzaro di Savena and the Gavina S.p.A. plant. in Foligno. In '62 the Bolognese entrepreneur gives birth to Flos.
Dino Gavina and young talents
“Dino Gavina is the first to work with young architects - the Castiglioni themselves, Tobia Scarpa, Bellini, Kazuhide Takahama, Vico Magistretti; the first to re-propose Marcel Breuer's Bauhaus. He is also a forerunner in understanding the importance of the shop, having the Gavina store built in via Altabella in Bologna by Carlo Scarpa, and later in other cities by the Castiglioni and Takahama, organizing exhibitions and events.
He was the first to have Carlo Scarpa design furniture, with the Ultrarazionale collection, and above all, in the early 70s, with Ultramobile , to collaborate with the artists: Meret Oppenheim, Man Ray, Sebastian Matta - but also Giacomo Balla, André Masson, René Magritte, Jackson Pollock.
His choices may appear contradictory, but they essentially go against the tide: he rejects the projects of Carlo Mollino, Gio Ponti, LeCorbusier because they are not suitable for mass production (too many artisanal steps), to work 15-20 years later with the artists. In this case, however, it is not so much a question of furniture, as of objects capable of generating wonder and amazement".
Dino Gavina and low cost design
In 1974 he also collaborated with Enzo Mari: Metamobile is one of the first low-cost design production projects with a motto: "the rich must be freed from kitsch for the rich. The poor must be freed from kitsch for the poor". These are the years of the economic boom and the volcanic Gavina does not stop only at design, but organizes important traveling exhibitions, including those dedicated to Lucio Fontana and Marcel Duchamp.
It is from the French artist, father of the ready-made, that the Centro Duchamp takes its name, a factory that the patron founded in the San Lazzaro plant in '67 and which becomes a crossroads for artists, engineers, poets, architects, musicians. "If you don't know art, literature and music, you can't do design," he argues. In 1968 he sold Gavina Spa to Knoll and founded Simon International together with Maria Simoncini.
In 1974 the artistic collaboration with Sirrah begins. "His latest adventure is Simongavina Paradisoterrestre launched in the 1980s: also in this case he is the first to think about street furniture. His greatness lies, perhaps, in investigating what it meant to design, in relation to changes. of the times".