Powerhouse of the Italian Style
Founder of several of Italian design's most significant manufacturing companies, Dino Gavina began his creative career as a set designer in the 1940s. He first visited the X Triennale di Milano in 1953 at the behest of Lucio Fontana, whom he had befriended earlier in the decade. While in Milan, Gavina met many of Italy's most prominent architects and designers, including Carlo De Carli, Pier Giacomo Castiglioni, Carlo Molino, Enzo Mari, and Carlo Scarpa, and would soon work closely with many of them.
With Fontana's encouragement, Gavina founded Gavina SpA in 1960. Design icons Achille Castiglioni and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni soon entrusted the production of their renowned Sanluca chair to the young company, kicking off an explosive decade for both Gavina and the history of Italian design. Two years later in 1962, Gavina established the lighting company FLOS with Cesare Cassina and Arturo Eisenkeil. In 1968, a third company emerged: Studio Simon, which Gavina co-founded with Maria Simoncini.
Celebrated for his eagerness to create sharp fusions of art and design, Gavina worked with artist friends including Fontana and Man Ray to produce hybrid works that pushed the boundaries of both disciplines. In 1971, Gavina launched the 'Ultramobile' collection, working with Meret Oppenheim, Roberto Matta, and others to create furniture with a surrealist bent. Marcel Breuer once described Gavina as, "the most sensitive and impulsive furniture manufacturer [in] the world." For his part, Gavina understood objects as a language unto themselves, claiming that "production is the most effective communication tool of our time."