Franco Albini was born in 1905 in Brianza, Italy. Albini’s first formal training began in college, when he attended the Politecnico di Milano. He studied architecture and engineering under Gio Ponti. Impressed by his young student’s talent, Ponti hired Albini to work for his firm which Ponti started with fellow architect Emilio Lancia. During this time, Albini immersed himself in the Modernist movement, traveling to Barcelona where he was exposed to the work of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe through the Barcelona pavilion, and meeting Le Corbusier at his studio in Paris. Albini was greatly influenced by Le Corbusier’s commitment to solving architectural problems and he started his own studio in 1930, collaborating with noted architect Franca Helg on numerous designs. A follower of Rationalism, Albini rejected traditionalism and wanted to create buildings with efficiency of space and with function as a primary concern.
Albini also began to collaborate with firms to create furniture, glass, and lighting. In his furniture designs, Albini sought to create functional furniture for the modern world. His works range from creative explorations of new materials, such as tubular steel in his Fiorenza armchair, to his unique utilization of the time-honored technique of basket weaving in his Gala Basket armchair. He worked mostly with Italian manufacturers, including Arteluce, Artemide, and Artflex. Albini’s work also had an international appeal, as several of his pieces were produced by Knoll and distributed by Singer & Sons in the United States. Albini died in 1977, leaving behind an impressive œuvre of work that is held in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.