Ico Parisi (1916 - 1996) Italian furniture designer

Ico Parisi (1916 – 1996) Italian furniture designer

Sofa and lounge chairs model 865 by Ico Parisi made for Cassina (1955)
Sofa and lounge chairs model 865 by Ico Parisi made for Cassina (1955)

Domenico Parisi was born in Palermo on September 23, 1916. He was known as “Ico.” He was an Italian architect and designer of the modernist style. Ico Parisi moved to Como when he was very young. His father was an art teacher there, so Ico lived there almost all of his life. He first studied construction and got his degree in 1934. That same year, he went to work as an apprentice for the important Italian Modern Movement architect Giuseppe Terragni, who was a leading figure in the rationalist architecture movement of the 1920s.

He was able to meet and talk with people like Cattaneo, Lingeri, Radice, Rho, Persico, and Sartoris, who were important in Como’s design and architecture worlds. In 1936, Parisi took part in a photographic architectural study for the magazine Quadrante of the Italian Modernist building Casa del Fascio, an administrative building in Como designed by Terragni with a strict rationalist approach. This was an important step in the development of Parisi’s style. The building is considered one of the best examples of International Style architecture and housed the local branch of the National Fascist Party.

Ico Parisi Biography

He mostly did individual furniture, exhibition stands, and interior design. He worked with Luisa Aiani, and the two of them got married in 1947. Together, they opened the studio La Ruota, a place for art, exhibitions, and culture, as well as design.

Contenitori Umani by Ico Parisi (1968)
Contenitori Umani by Ico Parisi (1968)

From the 1950s on, Parisi produced more and more work in both architecture and design. He made furniture, first one-of-a-kind pieces with craftsmen from Brianza, and then mass-produced pieces with companies like Cassina. He also made a lot of decorative art with materials like ceramics and glass.

His design research took a clear turn in the late 1960s. Contenitoriumani, which Parisi made with the sculptor Francesco Somaini and showed for the first time at the Milan Furniture Fair in 1968, was the start of a new line of research meant to define a utopian-existential way of living.

Between 1974 and 1976, his design and existential research came to a head with “Operazione Arcevia.” It was a collective, multidisciplinary project meant to design a whole community. The work was shown at the 76th Venice Biennale and then at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome (1979). This utopian, urban social experience led to his later graphic research, which became the focus of many group and personal shows. On December 19, 1996, he died in Como.

Furniture Design by Ico Parisi

For Cassina, he designed the chairs Model 691 (1955), the sofa and lounge chairs Model 865 (1957), and the lounge chairs Model 856 (1957). Singer & Sons, he designed a series of walnut-and-brass tables with articulated legs, such as the coffee table Model 112 (1950) and the console table Model 1109 (1950). In the late 1950s, he designed a series of custom library systems for Fratelli Rizzi.

Olimpino - Designed in 1955 by Ico Parisi
Olimpino – Designed in 1955 by Ico Parisi

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