Although not a household name to the general public, many historians believe was Colombo who turned Milan the capital of design.

joe cesare colombo

He died very young, at 41. If we consider that before turning to design was a painter and sculptor, we find that the vast majority of his designs were made in less than 10 years, roughly between 1963 and 1971.

elda, armchair, colombo


Model Elda. Manufacturer: Longhi


Colombo had the firm belief that most furniture design problems could be solved with the use of new materials.

He began experimenting with materials such as reinforced plastics and innovative construction techniques and manufacturing methods. These changes generated better quality products with lower cost and innovative design.


His chair “Universale” was the first completely made of plastic. The legs are removable and can be replaced by others of different heights, thus three versions of the same piece: low chair, dining chair and stool.

universale, colombo

Model Universale

Perhaps one of his most famous pieces is the 4801 chair, originally designed in wood, and now reissued in PMMA.

4801, colombo, kartell

Model 4801.Manufacturer: Kartell

For his home, Colombo designed pieces like the bed Cabriolet, following the concept of “all in one”. It’s like a living room, has a clock, television, stereo and of course, lighting. In the back: folding dining table or bar, mirror and toilet.

cabriolet bed, colombo

He continued with this idea and, in 1972, presented at the Museum of Modern Art (New York), in just 28 m2 of space,  a kitchen, closets, beds, private area and bathroom.

total furnishing, colombo

Colombo believed that designers were responsible for “creating the environment of the future”, so opted for the creation of complete living environments, rather than individual pieces of furniture.

Colombo was more futuristic than idealistic. He wasn’t only dreaming, he just went ahead.