Antonio Citterio: 452 pages of design

A new monograph retraces more than fifty years of the famous designer's work. A history of more than 600 products narrated by author contributions

Antonio Citterio Design by Silvana Editoriale
Antonio Citterio Design by Silvana Editoriale. Arclinea, Convivium, design Antonio Citterio, 2002

The image chosen to be the cover of the book that recounts Antonio Citterio‘s work as a designer, which has just been published (Antonio Citterio Design, Silvana Editoriale, 452 pages, 900 illustrations), is a declaration of intent: a chair disassembled into every component, including screws, and then meticulously arranged on a white background. It resembles a table from a scientific treatise, where the name, peculiarities and function of each detail is explained.

Antonio Citterio Design by Silvana Editoriale
Antonio Citterio Design by Silvana Editoriale

Citterio’s career spans more than 50 years of design history. And it is still very active: for 2022 alone, the volume mentions 14 product families signed by him. Fifty years is a time span that allows one to see things in perspective, to draw lines of evolution. The investigations are diverse and run parallel: the relationship with companies, a key element; and then the evolution of taste, the approach to the various product categories.

Antonio Citterio - Photo © Mattia Balsamini
Antonio Citterio – Photo © Mattia Balsamini

Because Citterio has designed in many areas, from sofas (many) to taps to cutlery. And in the book there is everything, in impeccable images interspersed, every now and then, with snapshots of life: behind the scenes of an advertising campaign, stands at the Salone del Mobile, sketches, technical drawings.

Flexform, Max, design Antonio Citterio, 1983 (reissued by Supermax, 2023)
Flexform, Max, 1983 (reissued by Supermax, 2023) – Photo © IKB, courtesy Flexform

The thread of the design reasoning is also explained by showing the variety of individual details: for example, with a sequence of sofa feet, all different from each other, published full-page. Again, as in a scientific treatise.

Technogym, Kinesis Personal, design Antonio Citterio and Toan Nguyen, 2006
Technogym, Kinesis Personal, designed with Toan Nguyen, 2006 – Photo © Leo Torri, courtesy Technogym
Guzzini, My Table, design Antonio Citterio
Guzzini, cutlery set My Table – Photo © Leo Torri – Courtesy of Guzzini

But this is only one aspect of this volume. Another is that of the voices involved: it begins with an affectionate prologue by Andrea Branzi, who calls Citterio ‘the Great Lombard’, like a historical figure; this is followed by Francesco Bonami talking about a design so perfect that it is capable of disappearing.

B&B Italia, Sity, design Antonio Citterio, 1986
B&B Italia, Sity, 1986 – Photo © Fabrizio Bergamo

The written part continues with illustrious contributions: Stefano Casciani, Francesca Picchi, Deyan Sudjic. And the book ends with an impressive chronological list of Citterio’s designs, from the Poppy bed-chair, designed in 1970 together with Paolo Nava, to the present day. There are more than 400 entries.

Flos, Kelvin LED, design Antonio Citterio and Toan Nguyen, 2009
Flos, Kelvin LED, designed with Toan Nguyen, 2009

An important work that Citterio himself comments as follows: “This book it’s a journey through time and memory, where the heroes are not so much the products or the challenges I encountered, but rather the people with whom I faced those challenges. I am convinced that, if there is a common thread that tells the story of my work, it is the team and the idea of the relationships with people, from collaborators to the companies for which I have designed and continue to design“.