Joe Colombo: Inventing the Future

Saturday 2nd December 2006

Until 25 February 2007. Free admission. The first international retrospective of work by influential Italian designer Joe Colombo. An exhibition of the Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Germany and the Triennale di Milano in co-operation with the Studio Joe Colombo.

Joe Colombo

Televisions that retract into the ceiling, pivoting walls with a built-in mini bar, underground ‘nuclear cities’ – the work of the Italian designer Joe Colombo could have emerged from the set of a contemporary James Bond film. They exude the spirit of the swinging sixties, yet also impress with their functionality and striking forms. One of the most successful designers of his time, Colombo produced design classics such as the Elda armchair, the Universale chair and the lamp Alogena. In 1971, Joe Colombo died at 41 years of age. Joe Colombo – Design Laboratory is the first international retrospective of Colombo’s work. Manchester Art Gallery is the only UK venue to show the exhibition.

Produced in close co-operation with the estate of Joe Colombo, the exhibition presents an abundance of previously unseen material from Joe Colombo’s body of work. These include early original objects and prototypes from Colombo’s most important furniture designs as well as original sketches, plans, brochures, architectural models, several films and contemporary photos. Arranged in four groups, the exhibition traces the rapid development of Colombo’s brief career and conveys a lively impression of the designer’s tremendous productivity that fascinated contemporaries even during his lifetime.

As illustrated by the many photos of Colombo’s own apartment in which he himself appears, Colombo was not only one of the most important designers of his time, but also a gifted communicator and self-promoter. Always elegantly dressed and never without a pipe in his mouth, Colombo cultivated a fitting image to accompany his designs: that of a designer dandy who was fascinated by the possibilities of new technologies and improving everyday life. He even perfected the design for a simple pipe by levelling out the base so it could be placed on a table without falling over. Colombo was both one of the great design visionaries of the 20th century and a pragmatist for whom the future began with the little everyday things of life.

For further information and images please contact Kim Gowland, Manchester Art Gallery Tel 0161 235 8861 Email
Date issued: 28 April 2006

Manchester Art Gallery opening times: Tuesday – Sunday 10am-5pm
Closed: Monday, except Bank Holidays