in , , , ,

GAETANO PESCE: What You Need To Know

GAETANO PESCE Italian architect, designer and artist is influencing art and design scene since the 60s – here’s what you have to know about Pesce:

Gaetano Pesce
Gaetano Pesce in his studio with the prototype design of FELTRI chair in 1987 – photo © @gaetano.pesce

Gaetano Pesce is an Italian architect, designer, and artist known for his innovative and provocative approach to design. Born on November 8, 1939, in La Spezia, Italy, Pesce has made significant contributions to the world of design over the course of his career.

Gaetano Pesce Early Days

During his early days, Pesce studied architecture at the University of Venice, where he developed a keen interest in exploring unconventional materials and techniques. He was fascinated by the possibilities of design and its potential to challenge societal norms and conventions. Pesce’s childhood interest in art and design fuelled his passion for creating bold and expressive works that defy traditional boundaries.

The New York skyline turned into a screen by Gaetano Pesce for Cassina. Courtesy of Gaetano Pesce.

Throughout his career, Pesce has created numerous ground-breaking designs that have gained international recognition. Some of his most important designs include the “Up” series of chairs, which feature an organic shape and are made of polyurethane foam that allows for flexibility and comfort. Another notable design is the “Moloch” lamp, a sculptural piece that reflects Pesce’s exploration of the relationship between function and form.

Supermodel Kate Moss in a special chair designed for ©Bottega Veneta

One of the ways Pesce has changed the Italian design industry is through his rejection of mass production and emphasis on individuality. He believes in creating designs that are unique and reflective of the individual, breaking away from the standardized and homogenized approach of mass-produced items. Pesce’s designs challenge the status quo and encourage viewers to question established norms.

The Uproar of Up Chair by Gaetano Pesce

The UP chair, designed by renowned architect and designer Gaetano Pesce, is an iconic piece of furniture that has left a lasting impact on the design world. It was originally designed in 1969 for the Italian company B&B Italia. The chair’s distinctive form and unconventional construction make it a standout in the world of furniture design.

With its curvaceous and organic shape, the UP chair resembles a blooming flower or a cocoon. Its unique design is achieved through a process called “polyurethane foam injection,” where liquid foam is injected into a fabric cover, allowing it to expand and take shape. This innovative technique results in a chair that is not only visually striking but also remarkably comfortable.

The UP chair is known for its hefty price tag, with retail prices ranging from several thousand to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the specific model and edition. Despite its high cost, the chair has garnered a significant following and continues to be sought after by design enthusiasts and collectors worldwide.

The UP chair has made appearances in various movies, including “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Gattaca,” further cementing its status as a design icon.

While the UP chair has received praise for its bold design and avant-garde approach, it has also faced criticism and backlash from some feminist and women’s rights advocates. The chair’s curvaceous form has been interpreted by some as objectifying and perpetuating stereotypes about the female body. This interpretation has upset feminists and women who believe that such depictions reinforce societal pressures and objectification.

up chair gaetano pesce
“UP” chair by GAETANO PESCE by B&B Italia photo ©B&B Italia

In response to the controversy, Gaetano Pesce has defended his design, stating that the intention behind the UP chair was to challenge conventional notions of beauty and provoke discussion. He believes that the chair’s form represents a rebellion against the rigid and standardized designs of traditional furniture, promoting individuality and freedom. “At that time, I was telling a personal story about my concept of women: I believe that women have always been unwilling prisoners of themselves. This is why I decided to give this armchair the shape of a woman with a ball and chain, a traditional image of a prisoner,shared Pesce

While the UP chair has its share of detractors, it remains a significant and influential design in Gaetano Pesce’s extensive portfolio. However, it is worth noting that it may not be universally loved by the design world. Design preferences can vary greatly, and while the chair has gained a dedicated following, other designers and critics may have different opinions about its importance and appeal. Nonetheless, there is no denying the impact and recognition that the UP chair has achieved within the design community.

Gaetano Pesce
Photo courtesy of GAETANO PESCE

The FELTRI Chair for Cassina

The FELTRI chair, designed by Italian designer artist Gaetano Pesce, is a remarkable piece of furniture that showcases both innovative design and exceptional craftsmanship. This unique chair is made primarily from recycled felt, which gives it a distinctive and tactile quality.

The collaboration between Gaetano Pesce and Cassina, the renowned Italian furniture company, resulted in the creation of the FELTRI chair in 1987. With Cassina’s expertise in manufacturing and Pesce’s creative vision, the chair became an embodiment of their combined artistic prowess. Cassina’s commitment to producing high-quality furniture combined with Pesce’s experimental approach to design made for a powerful partnership.

The FELTRI chair stands as a testament to Pesce’s philosophy of design as a medium of expression and social commentary. The chair’s form is intentionally distorted and irregular, representing the unpredictability and imperfections of human life. Each chair is handcrafted, ensuring that no two pieces are identical, embracing the uniqueness of individual experiences.

The chair’s unconventional design garnered significant attention and acclaim within the design community. It challenged traditional notions of furniture by embracing organic shapes and vibrant colors. The FELTRI chair quickly became an icon of contemporary design, celebrated for its artistic expression and unconventional use of materials.

The idea behind the FELTRI chair was to create a functional piece of furniture that transcends its utilitarian purpose and becomes a work of art. By incorporating recycled materials like felt, Pesce aimed to highlight the importance of sustainable design and environmental consciousness. The chair’s soft and tactile surface invites people to engage with it, blurring the boundaries between art and function.

Over the years, the FELTRI chair has achieved great success and has been exhibited in renowned museums and galleries worldwide. Its enduring popularity speaks to its ability to captivate audiences with its unique design language and thought-provoking aesthetic. The FELTRI chair continues to inspire contemporary designers and remains an important milestone in Gaetano Pesce’s illustrious career.

Brand Collaborations With Pesce

Throughout his career, Pesce has collaborated with several renowned individuals and organizations. He has worked with notable brands such as Cassina (with the famed Feltri above), Vitra, and Zerodisegno, creating unique and thought-provoking designs that challenge traditional notions of form and function. His collaborations with architects, artists, and designers have allowed him to expand his creative vision and explore new possibilities within the world of design.

Gaetano Pesce
Bottega Veneta Milano Runway Showspace by Gaetano Pesce

Pesce’s latest work continues to push boundaries and challenge conventional design practices. His most recent projects include collaborations with various brands and organizations, such as designing furniture pieces for B&B Italia and developing architectural installations for exhibitions and museums around the world.

For the latest Salone del Mobile in Milan, Gaetano Pesce has collaborated with fashion house Bottega Veneta. The collaboration resulted in collaboration imagery featuring supermodels Kate Moss and Mariacala Bosono as well as an immersive installation in Bottega’s Milano store on Via Manzoni. Previously, Gaetano Pesce collaborated with Bottega Veneta‘s creative director Matthieu Blazy on show space and a special limited edition book. 

Pesce is to this day an influential Italian architect, designer, and artist known for his ground-breaking and thought-provoking designs. From his early days studying architecture to his latest works, Pesce has challenged the Italian design industry and pushed boundaries with his unconventional approach. His designs have received international recognition, and he continues to inspire and influence the world of design with his innovative creations.


ÁGORA designs La Carmela Cultural Center

Unique House by blaq arquitectos