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Joe Colombo in advance on the future

Joe Colombo was born in Milan in 1930. His father run a factory which produced electrical conductors. After his father’s illness, Joe started to use this space as an experimental workshop for his creations.

Until the 1960s he was mainly interested in painting and sculpture. His most prolific period in terms of artistic production was from the ‘60s up to his untimely death, a heart attack (at the age of 41). He worked for several companies, such as Kartell, Longhi etc…

In the ‘50s he attended the Brera Academy and at the same time he took part in the avant-garde artistic movement known as Nuclear Movement founded by Enrico Baj and Sergio Dangelo. The name of the movement derived from the international anxiety generated by the nuclear bomb.

Joe was eclectic and hedonist. He believed in progress and he was considered as the “Future inventor”.

Far away from all rooted trends, he was able to interpret the “Tomorrow”.

Here below his visionary thoughts:

  • We will have the phones in our pockets


  • We will make projects with the support of electronic brains

Not surprisingly, he was one of the first designers to experiment new production techniques and use new materials, such as PVC, polyethylene and fiberglass for his creations.

The Elda armchair was named after his wife’s name (designed in 1963 and produced in 1965). The structure and the body were completely made with fiberglass and they were made by using a polyurethane mould. The body was shell-shaped and had comfortable tubolar cushions, made with leather, on the seatback. The cushions covered the inner part of the armchair providing comfort, sound insulation and a feeling of deep intimacy. The base of the armchair swivelled 360 degrees.

With Elda, Joe Colombo thought of eliminating the wooden body for the padding. He was inspired by the building technology of boat hulls for obtaining a light but very resistant structure. The enveloping lines took inspiration from both the traditional armchairs used in the ‘50s and innovative ones such as Jacobsen’s EGG Chair or Saarinen’s series of Tulip.

It was a leading project, one of the most iconic design of that time. Designed for Comfort, an Italian company, now it is produced by Longhi.

It had such a futuristic design, that it was used in a cult TV series of the ‘70s called SPACE: 1999 (as shown in the picture).