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Masterful Minds – Furniture Designers At The Top Of Their Game

Find out how these three talented designer geniuses carved their career in the furniture industry.

Aug 02, 2022 | By Joe Lim

We explore three preeminent furniture designers who demonstrate their proficiency in designing products for the home. Here’s a look at some of these geniuses.

Antonio Citterio

Antonio Citterio sitting
He is a man that needs no introduction if you’re into furniture design. The two-time Compasso d’Oro winner (1987 and 1995) pushes the boundaries of design with his exceptional and outstanding architectural and industrial works. Born in 1950 in Meda, Citterio graduated from the Polytechnic of Milan. A highly sought-after designer, he has worked for a number of leading manufacturers — including Vitra, Flexform, Flos, and Kartell — is the art director for both the B&B Italia and Maxalto brands, and the architect behind the group’s retail showrooms around the world.

Flexform Groundpiece sofa

Flexform’s best-selling sofa by Antonio Citterio – Groundpiece

In 1999, together with Patricia Viel, he founded Antonio Citterio and Partners: a multidisciplinary practice for architectural design, industrial design, and graphics. The firm quickly rose to prominence with a series of projects for the luxury hotel chain Bulgari Hotels and Resorts – first for the inaugural Bulgari Hotel in Milan in 2004, followed by the Bulgari Resort in 2006, then the Bulgari restaurant and cafe in Tokyo in 2007.

B&B Italia “Atoll” sofa by Antonio Citterio. Image; B&B Italia.

In that same year, Citterio received the Royal Designer for Industry award from the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce in London. Citterio has worked for B&B Italia for decades. His most famous pieces are “Charles”, “Ray”, “Richard”, and “Diesis” seating solutions, to name a few. He’s also designed outstanding, iconic pieces for Flexform such as the best-selling “Groundpiece” sofa. This modular system offers a wide range of configurations to suit any space and offers coffee tables on armrests, shelves, and caddies to hold personal objects and books.

Rodolfo Dordoni

Rodolfo Dordoni, creative director for Minotti

From the legendary stable of Milan elite designers is Rodolfo Dordoni, whose vast repertoire of design products is famed for their elegance, essentiality, and innovative details. Born in 1954 in Milan, Dordoni graduated with a degree in architecture from the Polytechnic of Milan in 1979. From the start of his career, Dordoni has made an impact charting the art direction and corporate identity for the a-list individuals in the high-end Italian design industry – Artemide (glass collection), Cappellini, Fortana Arte (furniture collection), Foscarini (lamps), Minotti and Roda.

Minotti Hamilton sofa

Minotti Hamilton sofa. Image: Minotti.

Best known for his work with Dolce & Gabbana, Dordoni has since 1995, been involved in all aspects of its image coordination starting from its headquarters in Milan to its showrooms and boutiques all over the world. In 2005, he founded Dordoni Architect Studios with architects Alessandro Acerbi and Luca Zaniboni, which focuses on residential and commercial architectural planning and interior design.

Minotti Hopper lounge chair

Minotti Hopper lounge chair. Image: Minotti.

Dordoni’s success could be attributed to his deep and traditional approach to the process of design and production which includes the development of image strategies, product concepts, design, and the development of product marketing. The result? Objects that emphasise on structure, proportion, and elegant functionality are the unmistakable signature of Dordoni’s designs. Dordoni took on the role of art director of Minotti in 1998. The relationship between Dordoni and the Minotti brothers, Renato and Roberto, is deeply rooted, and the trio shares the same aesthetic principles and creative style – blending tradition and technology to produce the finest “Made in Italy” products. Many of his iconic designs for Minotti include the “Hamilton” sofa and “Hopper” lounge chair.

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Piero Lissoni

Piero Lissoni

Pierro Lissoni. Image:

Piero Lissoni is another prolific furniture designer that needs no introduction especially so if you’re a design junkie. He started out his formative academic years by studying Architecture at the Politecnico di Milano. Upon graduating in 1985, he began collaborating as a designer and Art Director with furniture manufacturers Boffi, Living Divani, and Porro. In 1986, together with Nicoletta Canesi, Piero Lissoni opened the studio Lissoni Associati; in 1996 they created Graph.x to develop graphic projects. The work of the studio embraces architecture, and graphic and industrial design projects, ranging from furniture, accessories, kitchens, bathroom, and lighting fixtures to corporate identity, advertising, catalogues, and packaging. He took on interior design projects where clients from hotels, showrooms, trade stands, private houses, shops, and yachts, came to him for spatial design advice.

Aquarium NY

Aquarium in New York. Image:

Piero Lissoni architectural projects include a private loft in Monza (2009); a villa near Como (2005); apartments and villas in Milan and Tuscany (2010); in Jerusalem the Mamilla Hotel with 210 new rooms and suites in addition to the interior architecture of bar & lounge areas (2009) and the Scala restaurant (2008) serving kosher haute cuisine; the renovation of the public areas of the Monaco & Grand Canal Hotel (2002-2004) in Venice; the Bentley Design HotelTM in Istanbul (2002); the Al Porto Design Hotel on Zurich lake(2001); the Mitsui Garden Hotel in Tokyo (2005). In addition to showrooms for Boffi, Cassina, Porro, and Tecno, Piero Lissoni re-designed the headquarters of Living Divani in Anzano del Parco (2007), headquarters for Glas Italia(2010) and Matteograssi (2010) near Milan; La Rinascente Group’s new offices in Milan (2006) and a new Benetton retail building in Istanbul (2009). Lissoni has restored the historical Teatro Nazionale (2009) with new, sophisticated high technology for the Dutch multinational Stage Entertainment. Lissoni has designed and realised the interiors of the 27m sailing yacht Ghost (2005) owned by a New York art dealer, and the 50m motor yacht Tribù designed for Luciano Benetton (2007).

His studio has also designed the interiors for the Ferrari Club House on Fiorano race track; large private villas in Switzerland and in Italy; the Conservatorium Hotel in the Museum Square area in Amsterdam; the beauty farm and hotel Mare e Pineta in Milano Marittima; the interior architecture of David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem; shops and showrooms in Paris, London, Frankfurt, Milan, to name a few.

K20 Steel fitted kitchen designed for Boffi. Image: Boffi.

Graph.x has handled the corporate identity, logo and billboards for the past three editions of the Mostra Internazionale d’Arte Cinematografica di Venezia. In April 2010, the studio won the competition organised by the Municipal Council of Maranello, for the rehabilitation of the piazza and the construction of a 30-metre tall panoramic tower in steel and polycarbonate for the Galleria Ferrari museum with its 200,000 annual visitors.

Porro Materic table

Porro Materic table. Image: Porro.

The studio currently employs over 70+ people comprising architects, designers, and graphic designers and creates solutions for clients such as Alessi, Boffi, Cappellini, Cassina, Flos, Fritz Hansen, Glas Italia, Kartell, Knoll International, Lema, to name a few. Today, the busy Italian designer is recognised for several furniture designs such as his “8” sofa for Cassina, “Softline” sofas for Living Divani, and the “Materic” table for Porro.

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