about Joe Colombo

JOE COLOMBO (1930 – 1971)

Joe Colombo was born in Milan on July 30, 1930. Joe Colombo was one of the great Italian architects and industrial designers of the post-war years in Italy and, in addition to that, also a brilliant car seller.

At the age of 19 Joe Colombo went to the „Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera“ in Milan. Afterwards, until 1954, he studied architecture at the Polytechnic, but never graduated. In the first years after his studies Joe Colombo worked as a sculptor and painter but also as an entrepreneur for electrical goods, as an architectural draftsman and of course as a car seller. By the way, his whole life Joe Colombo was fascinated by cars.  

Joe Colombo made his first attempts as a designer after the death of his father. In 1959 Colombo took over the family business for electrical goods and experimented with new materials and production processes. Then in 1962 Joe Colombo opened his own design studio in Milan.



Joe Colombo designed commodities, lamps and furniture. In 1962 Joe Colombo created the very famous “Acrilica”, a table lamp made of acrylic glass. In 1964 he designed the armchair
”No. 4801“ for ”Kartell“ which was made of laminated wood. In 1968 Joe Colombo presented the “Additional Living System” – a chair and a lounger at once, made of different individual “cushions” that could be pinned together in different configurations with metal clips. In 1970 his last great design followed: the “Tube Chair” – four upholstered tubes with different diameters which again could be pinned together to form a chair or a lounger or could be stacked into each other and in that way space-savingly stowed away in a corner.  

When listing the designs of Joe Colombo it quickly becomes clear that Colombo was a very flexible, changing person who perceived his environment very closely and thoroughly. Inflexibility was not an option for Colombo – neither in his private life nor in relation with his furniture designs. Like no other Colombo reacted with his designs to the dynamic and the changes of the society in the 1960s.

Joe Colombo unfortunately died much too early at the age of 41 in Milan.