Armchair (P40)
Italy, 1955
Osvaldo Borsani

Wool, polyurethane foam, and steel
min: 24⅛ x 26⅜ x 28¼"
max: 41⅜ x 26⅜ x 70"

Osvaldo Borsani (1911–1985) was an Italian designer and architect, born into a family of furniture makers with along and well established artisanal tradition.  His father, Gaetano Borsani, owned his own furniture shop, the Atelier di Varedo, where the 16-year-old Osvaldo received his first training. At that time, the designer of the atelier was the architect Gino Maggioni, who brought with him influences of the early 20th century Jugendstil movement from Vienna and who instilled in the young Borsani an appreciation for the arts and crafts and furniture making. Osvaldo Borsani first studied fine arts at Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan, graduating in 1931, and then pursued studies in architecture at Politecnico di Milano, where he graduated in 1936.

Osvaldo Borsani’s design work, just as his larger architectural projects, which he also considered design work, very often incorporated elements created by other artists and designers such as: Roberto Crippa, Arnaldo and Giò Pomodoro, Agenore Fabbri, Fausto Melotti, Andrea Cascella, and Lucio Fontana. Of all of these collaborations, the one that Borsani forged with Lucio Fontana resulted in the creation of many of Borsani’s furnishing designs of the late 1930s and 1940s. With Fontana, Borsani integrated sculptural ceramic and bronze elements, wood and gilded stucco, and interventions on glass tabletops with decorations, to name a few design elements, to his furniture designs.

In 1953, Osvaldo understood the imminent need to transform the artisan approach to furniture making into a modern industry capable of meeting a larger demand at more accessible prices. It was then that Osvaldo and his twin brother Fulgenzio founded the manufacturer Tecno, with the aim of utilizing modern manufacturing techniques that will deliver high-quality furniture to a larger international market. Initially, Tecno manufactured only Borsani’s furniture designs, and, although he continued to design furniture and objects until the early 1980s, by the late 1950s, Tecno also manufactured furniture from other designers, including Vico Magistretti, Roberto Mango, Gae Aulenti, Eugenio Gerli, Carlo de Carli, and Gio Ponti.

(Photo: MoMA)