Where the Heart Is: Architect and Designer Joe Colombo

A Colombo lamp. 

A Colombo lamp. 

 
 

Born in a city where design was (and still is king), Milanese architect and artist Joe Colombo was at the forefront of a new breed of makers of the 1950s who pushed functional design into an idealized future. Doorknobs, alarm clocks, wristwatches, no item was too small to lose relevance, each facet of our everyday important enough to warrant deeply thought-out whimsical and innovative reworking.

Colombo’s work takes us to another place, into a utopian world where colors are bright and shapes are unexpected – a glimpse of a sleek and cheery tomorrow. Using plywood and plastic, Colombo explored shape and sizing with an adventurers’ eye. Forgoing sharp lines for smooth curves, his designs are voluptuous, seductive and sleek. His goal? Variety and function matched with pleasing, vibrant color and style – prismatic lamps, sectional seating that could be arranged and added to, depending on how big of a party you were having, or intricately detailed modular living systems, built to accommodate multiple uses.

Colombo’s work is fun and endlessly imaginative, but also highly functional, a kind of Swiss Army knife of architecture, built for versatility and utilitarian use, but never lacking the eye-pleasing details. 

 
 
Colombo's "Bedroom of the Future" 1969 

Colombo's "Bedroom of the Future" 1969 

Joe Colombo; 'Elda Chair' 1963

Joe Colombo; 'Elda Chair' 1963

Joe Colombo; 'Additional-System' 1967-1968

Joe Colombo; 'Additional-System' 1967-1968

Joe Colombo

Joe Colombo