Joe Colombo




What do you get when you mix the Nuclear Painting Movement and the Concret Art Group, along with sculptures, electric appliances, plastics, and Italy? Well, pretty awesome furniture, and Joe Colombo. In Milan, Italy, Colombo was raised along with two brothers. Their father owned a electric appliance factory. He chose to go to school to study science, but quickly changed over to art. Colombo was a painter and sculptor. Identifying himself with the Nuclear Painting Movement, Colombo started seeing art and design in a new light. The Nuclearists were counter cultural and vehemently opposed to nuclear weapons, which they portrayed in their artworks. He then chose to go in another extreme joining the Concret Art Group which focused on non-representational art. This art was not focused on realism and the goal was to evoke no emotion or symbolism. It's only objective was good design with line, color, dimension, etc. When the Colombo brothers had to take over the electric appliance business, Joe was placed in an industrial playground. It was here that he found new materials to work with, such as plastic, and delved into the furniture world. Colombo's artistic leanings were not lost on his furniture design. You can clearly see his Concret Art teachings come out in his creations. For example, the Universale is one of his signature pieces. The lines are smooth, colors vibrant, and stacking feature was functional.His pieces were the epitome of efficiency and industry. No need to mess around with frivolous design. Colombo was to the point. His Living Systems are a fantastic example of this. He would build single pieces of furniture that encompassed an entire rooms worth of furniture. An complete kitchen was fit into a 90x75x75cm space. Colombo's eye for design was impeccable. We can see that at first glance. But it isn't until we look at his artistic background that we see how intentional the design was and can fully appreciate his genius.


by Bethany Dirksen


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