E-Interiors.net

The Casa Minima, the rationalist project presented by Osvaldo Borsani at the 5th Triennale in Milan in 1933, marks the turning point of one of the most interesting stories of 20th century Italian design.

From this moment, the idea of function determining form was to dominate Italian design for the next 50 years.

A joint project with architects Cairoli and G.B. Varisco, the Casa Minima also represented a more personal break in the family-run furniture business's previous preoccupation with Art Deco pieces, and proved the beginning of Borsani's influential career, one whose arc can be traced through decades of consistently well-designed Triennale entries.

Following the impact of its showing at the Triennale, and guided now by the young Osvaldo, the family business - Atelier Borsani Varedo - began experimenting with avant-garde design ideas, and collaborated on a number interior projects with some of the most renowned artists of the period, including Lucio Fontana, Fausto Melotti , Aligi Sassu and Gio Pomodoro.

In many respects, however, these projects, co-signed, bespoke and unrepeatable, were already behind their time, and notwithstanding their sheer quality, Borsani recognised that the future in rational design lay in mass produced industrial pieces.

In 1954, together with his brother, he converted the business into a design company with manufacturing capabilities. He called it Tecno, and exhibited at the 10th Triennale the Butterfly long seat D20, and the chaise longue P40, both to critical acclaim.

In 1956 he secured a contract with Enrico Mattei for the interior design of the ENI headquarters outside Milan, which acted as a catalyst for Tecno's experimental designs in office spaces, from reception to boardroom.

Borsani's Graphis office system was exhibited at the 14th Triennale, and in 1970 he launched Centro Progetti tecno, a creative design laboratory, which in later years - when eventually Borsani relinquished control over the design aspects of Tecno's productions - played host to the likes of Norman Foster, Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers, Gae Aulenti, Emilio Ambasz, Ricardo Bofill, Jean Michelle Wilmotte, Francois and Frederic Morellet, Jeffrey Steele, Getullio Alviani and Carlo Mo.

Osvaldo Borsani died in 1985. A designer, technician and thinker, he saw the potential of mass produced objects, and of industrial scale systems, and created in Tecno a company synonymous with the golden age of modern Italian design.