In Memoriam – Any advice for young people? “Well, I don’t have any. Actually, I hope they can advise me.” Said the late Andrea Branzi in an interview. Designer, artist, architect, and academic was a pioneer of a radical design ideology passed away on October 9, 2023. His most illuminating legacy is a progressive and positive attitude shaped by a forward-thinking approach.
Born in Florence in 1938, Branzi graduated from the Florence School of Architecture and, the very same year co-founded the avant-garde architecture studio Archizoom Associati, which is known for its visionary, groundbreaking projects. Their No-Stop-City is an urban utopia rethinking the city as an ever-expanding grid dissolving architecture to its essential remains. The studio embraced the Radical Design movement and collaborated with Superstudio to create the influential Superarchitettura exhibition.
“Radical architecture is situated within the more general movement of man’s liberation from culture, […] and tends to reduce all design processes to nought, refusing to play any part in a discipline bent on prefiguring an already coded future through environmental structures.” He said in 1978.
When Archizoom Associati disbanded in 1974, Andrea Branzi joined Studio Alchimia; in the 1980s, he also collaborated with the Memphis Group. He co-founded the Domus Academy in 1982 and was a professor and chairman of the Politecnico di Milano’s School of Interior Design.
He also expanded his design research through collaborations with design galleries such as Friedman Benda and Carpenters Workshop Gallery.
His creative work was in constant development throughout his career, with furniture and objects designed for the likes of Cassina and Alessi. Among his most iconic design pieces are the Superonda sofa, 1966, the Mies chair, 1968, and the modular Safari sofa,1968 – all challenging conventional notions of how we use and interact with furniture, all produced by Poltronova.
Milan’s Triennale museum director and architect Stefano Boeri described him as “a giant of radical thought on human spaces, a sophisticated historian of Italian design, a visionary artist capable of ironically inhabiting other universes and parallel worlds.”
His works are held in the permanent collections of numerous international institutions and museums, including the Centre Pompidou, the MoMA in New York, and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, among others. He was a three-time recipient of the Compasso d’Oro, the Nobel Prize equivalent for Italian design.