Italian architect Gae Aulenti dies at 85

Redesigned Musee d'Orsay in Paris, among others

01 November, 15:18

(ANSAmed) - Milan, November 1 - Italian architect, designer and teacher Gae Aulenti died late on Wednesday at her Milan home. She was 85 years old and had been ill for some time. Born in Palazzolo della Stella near the northern city of Udine, Aulenti trained as an architect at Milan's Polytechnical University graduating in 1959 and quickly became one of the few well-recognized women working in Italian postwar design. Her multi-faceted talent led her to work as a graphic designer and editor for the Italian product-design magazine Casabella Continuita and also to serve on the directorial board of Lotus International magazine. Like many of her contemporaries, she designed a series of furniture throughout the 1960s for the high-end Italian department store La Rinascente and went on to work with Zanotta furniture designers. Two of her best-known pieces for Zanotta are the 1964 'April' stainless-steel folding chair made more functional with a removable cover and the 1984 plate-glass 'Sanmarco' table. Also in the 1960s she began to collaborate with Olivetti business machines and Fiat automakers, designing showrooms, exhibitions and trade stands.

Aulenti was much lauded for her work. In 1964 she was awarded first prize at the Milan Triennial for her work in the Italian Pavilion with a distinctly feminine feel inspired by Picasso paintings.

She began creating set designs in the 1970s and worked from 1976-78 with the Prato Theater Design Workshop. Aulenti's work in the 1980s shifted towards several large-scale museum projects, including the layout of the Musee d'Orsay in Paris for which she was named Chevalier of the Legion d'Honneur by the French government. She also designed the Contemporary Art Gallery at the Centre Pompidou in Paris (1982-85), as well as the Palazzo Grassi in Venice (1985-86), the Museum of Catalan Art in the National Palace of Montejuic in Barcelona (1987), and renewed the entrance to the Santa Maria Novella railway station in Florence (1988-90). (ANSAmed).

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