Published: March42023

"The tradition of the new"

Rossi di Albizzate returns to Triennale-Milan with his "Triennale"

The exhibition — 

"The tradition of the new, an intriguing oxymoron. We enter the Triennale Milan and are catapulted into the 1960s. A period of great cultural ferment, desire for change, innovation, new materials, new technologies, new visions of the future. We return to the 13th Triennale exhibition in 1964 and as soon as we cross the entrance to the exhibition designed by the Zaven studio, we find a Rossi di Albizzate product: the Triennale armchair designed by architects Ammannati and Vitelli in 1960.

The exhibition "The tradition of the newis part of the 23rd International Exhibition and brings together works, installations and documents of Italian design between 1964 (13th Triennale: "Leisure Time") and 1996 (19th Triennale: "Identity and Difference"). Starting "from the Triennale collection and the archives of past International Exhibitions, it recounts how Italian design has always had a courageous and dedicated approach to exploration, tackling the not yet known through research."


The "Trienniale" armchair — 

Designed in 1960 by architects and husband and wife Gianpiero Vitelli and Titina Ammannati for Rossi di Albizzate, it is part of the experimentation with new applications of materials and technologies as well as user/product interaction. 

Made of curved and cut plywood, it fits into a cultural context of opposition to Scandinavian and American trends in using curved plywood. It undertakes independent research aimed at enhancing the material. The first experiments began by using the shells of televisions already in production at the time. The architects tried to cut them to create functional products. Baby Betta was born in 1959, a line of children's furniture produced by Rossi di Albizzate.

From these experiments, the "Triennale" armchair was created in 1960 and exhibited at the Triennale-Milan in 1964. Its structural wooden panels are reconfigurable and can also be used to create different products such as a bench and a cradle. The assembly of the product can be done directly by the user by means of an interlocking mechanism using nylon discs. A primordial IKEA concept that would have more fortune in later decades, but which had a seed in Rossi di Albizzate.

Architects Ammannati & Vitelli — 

Architect Vitelli was born in 1935 and as early as 1955, while still attending the architecture school, he began working with Rossi di Albizzate. It was a fundamental collaboration for the company's development. 

If the first design phase was characterised by the figure of founder Giuseppe Rossi, the second phase was characterised by architect Vitelli, who was joined in 1960 by his wife Titina Ammannati.

An era began in which product design became decidedly more modern. Formal and technical solutions that are still innovative today were experimented with, together with solutions that represented the time that generated them, such as "Mobile Totale" (Total Furniture) of 1965 now in the collection of the Pompidou Museum in Paris.

Through an extensive experimentation activity started in 1964, the two architects, as part of the research carried out by Rossi di Albizzate, began testing the potential of polyurethane cold moulding. It was not until the second half of the 1960s that Rossi di Albizzate found the most suitable mixture to guarantee greater comfort and formal freedom and patented RoFoam. After an initial experiment on a few models in 1968, Rossi di Albizzate presented to the market the Grandangolo modular system made entirely with cold-foam technology. It will be the world's first cold-foamed modular sofa. An immense corporate success.

Ammannati and Vitelli would work with Rossi di Albizzate until 1971, when they would pass the baton to the promising architect Carlo Bartoli, who would later achieve the Compasso alla Carriera.