Franco Albini - Design New York Tuesday, December 7, 2021 | Phillips

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  • At the 1936 Milan Triennale, while Gio Ponti championed the notion of luxurious hand-crafted products for the Italian household, Giuseppe Pagano and his followers, including Franco Albini, were making the case for industrialization that would provide “a house for everyone.”


    Albini graduated from the Politecnico di Milano in 1929 and though he began his career working in the studio of Gio Ponti and Emilio Lancia, by the 1930s he had turned to Neo-Rationalism. These new rationalists, led by architects like Pagano, believed that through the prioritization of pure geometry and reason, paired with the elimination of ornamentation and an exaltation of industrial materials, access to good design could be extended to all.


    The present daybeds in the children’s room at Casa Neuffer, circa 1940. 
    The present daybeds in the children’s room at Villa Neuffer, circa 1940.

    In 1940 Albini was asked to re-design the interior and furnishings of Villa Neuffer in the town of Ispra in Lago Maggiore. He was tasked with re-envisioning the interior of the historic building—melding his modern rationalist ideals with the traditional architecture of the property. The central spiral staircase inside Villa Neuffer perfectly realized this tension between tradition and modernity. While Albini looked to solve functional, everyday problems with utilitarian design, his integration of suspension and transparency created a modern intervention which melded rather than disrupted the historic site. By this time, Albini was already interested in re-introducing traditional motifs and luxury materials into his work while still designing under a rationalist framework. In a 1955 address by the architect published in Casabella continuità, he stated, “Tradition takes on the force of law that is accepted by everyone. It is thus a collective value consciously accepted and respected…Tradition as discipline is a barrier to capricious license, the vagaries of fashion, and the harmful errors of mediocrity.”


    The present daybeds, designed for a children’s room in Villa Neuffer, are exemplary of Albini’s attention to the traditional. Constructed of limed chestnut with large crossbeams wrapped in rush, the daybeds use both simple geometry and rustic materials to create an object that is simultaneously modern and antique. Albini’s work continues to be admired for its natural elegance which allows modernism to exist easily in a rich and eclectic environment.

    • Provenance

      Private collection, Ispra, Italy

    • Literature

      "Case Non Ville: Casa Neuffer a Ispra," Stile, no. 28, April 1943, illustrated p. 31


Pair of daybeds, from Villa Neuffer, Ispra, Italy

circa 1940
Limed chestnut, rush, fabric upholstery.
Each: 28 x 83 x 37 in. (71.1 x 210.8 x 94 cm)

Full Cataloguing

$30,000 - 50,000 

Contact Specialist

[email protected]


New York Auction 7 December 2021