Rediscovering Gianfranco Frattini

Rediscovering Gianfranco Frattini

“Today we would say that Frattini was a proxemics scholar, who had specialized in environmental psychology. Instead it was simply a gift, the gift of knowing how to offer everyone what was interesting to him, i.e. that which could make life more pleasant. This gift concealed a very important secret: respect and curiosity for others.”
(Marco Romanelli)


Marco Romanelli has organized the “Rediscovering Gianfranco Frattini” exhibition, which presents exclusively original materials from public and private collections, as well as from the archives of various companies, including the TRIA tables, the PROUST table, and the family of GONG tables designed for Acerbis in 1987 and recently reissued and presented at the Furniture Fair in the ICONS Collection.

Set up with the precious cooperation of the Frattini heirs, the exhibition is part of the “Design and the Territory” cycle of events: the story of design in the Monza and Brianza area organized by the Triennale Design Museum and the Milan Triennial.

The Rediscovering Gianfranco Frattini exhibition focuses on the work of Gianfranco Frattini (1926-2004) as a furniture designer, although it also touches on his forays into the product and the strong continuity with interiors.

From 1948 to 1968, Italy, recovering from its defeat in World War II, experienced an unexpected and probably unrepeatable period of growth and international success. It can be claimed that Italian design was born in that period, thanks to a small group of young designers connected with the older Ponti. Playing a fundamental but unfortunately forgotten role among these young designers was Gianfranco Frattini.


Born on May 15, 1926, in 1953 Frattini earned a degree in Architecture at the Milan Polytechnic, but he had already been working for a year in the studio of Gio Ponti. In 1956 he opened his own studio, and from the start a distinctive feature could be seen in his work that characterized his way of understanding a project: a totalizing experience in which nothing was left to chance and, consequently, the result was a strong unity. To Frattini, an architect is an attentive director; design and interiors are not added up in a virtuous, elegant combination, but rather they blend together to create a new vision of interiors that truly summarizes furniture design.

Frattini revolutionized the architecture of interiors by creating a world of beauty and precision without proclamations or manifestos.


Also essential were his relations with the Brianza craftsmen, with whom he formed collaborations that left a significant mark on his production (such as with the cabinetmaker Pierluigi Ghianda). These relationships tell of the passion of work experienced firsthand with the craftsmen and of his profound knowledge of materials, especially wood, which was Frattini’s favorite material.


“He is immediately aware that it is the project that has to adapt to the situation, and not the other way around: thus it is up to the designer to make good use of the creative skills he encounters, inventing a new style that respects both the hands of the artisan and the ability of the machine (the combination that makes Italian design still successful today).That is why the introduction in Frattini’s furniture of an alphabet of iconic signs allows even the most inexperienced eye to grasp the “objective” value of his creation. Look at certain grooves, emphasized by a decisive ray pattern, at the base of benches and sideboards. Look at the repeated and well-loved use of sliding shutters (a design wonder) instead of doors.
Unlike many architects of his generation, who tended to force materials to fit into the representation of an abstract principle, Frattini really knew the materials and understood the language of those who worked with them. The final result was completely unprecedented, and came from this capacity for dialogue, from the sharing of an ideal.” (Marco Romanelli)


Rediscovering Gianfranco Frattini
Until September 30, 2018
Villa Reale – Monza