Products by Stefano Giovannoni

For Italian designer and architect Stefano Giovannoni, studying at the University of Florence in the late 1970s was one of the most important influences.

As Giovannoni recalled, that place and time was part of a movement that threw out all the rules. The result was a new vision for designers and architects. “That was where the concept of ‘radical architecture’ was born, which created a whole new language and way of expression in Italian design,” he says.

It may have influenced the naming of his first studio, founded with Guido Venturini in the 1980s. They called it “King-Kong.”

With an eye for communication and a penchant for cleverness, Giovannoni has designed some of the most successful products in the world. His credits include the Girotondo and Mami lines of household products for Alessi, Il Bagno Alessi, and the Bombo family for Magis.

Seeing the results of his products is more satisfying to Giovannoni than the many prestigious awards he’s won over the years. “It’s my job to think about how a product will be received in the marketplace,” he says. “That is something I take very seriously.”

Products such as the Bombo Stool, Chair First, Table First, and Dressed First—all designed for Magis—exemplify his innovative use of materials and original thinking. Chair First, for example, was the first three-dimensional plastic chair created through gas-injected air molding. Meanwhile, his adjustable Bombo Stool created a whole new typology and was so futuristic it appeared in the movie “Star Trek.”

“It’s my job to think about how a product will be received in the marketplace. That is something I take very seriously.”

-Stefano Giovannoni

Paying attention to popular culture is something Giovannoni feels all designers need to do. “We have to have long antennas to perceive changes in society as a whole,” he says. “And (we must) adopt our language to the context of the larger world.” He also views the design community's current focus on sustainability and environmental stewardship as a positive.

A former professor at several universities, Giovannoni advises up-and-coming designers to focus on research and not settle for the easy, simple solutions. “They each need to find their own personal way of expressing their ideas.” He continues, “And that takes a lot of time and a lot of thinking.”

You can find Giovannoni’s own prodigious work in major museums throughout the world.