Born in Turin, Piedmont, Carlo Mollino was the son of Eugenio Mollino, an engineer. As he grew up, Carlo Mollino became interested in a variety of topics that were as outrageous as his art, such as design, architecture, the occult, and race cars.
He was once credited as saying, "Everything is permissible as long as it is fantastic." That credo was certainly reflected throughout his body of work. Mollino's architecture and furniture are famous for their ability to enable occupants to manipulate volumes at a whim.
Carlo Mollino died in 1973, while still working.
In 1930, Carlo Mollino started his career as an architect designing a house in Forte dei Marmi and receiving the G. Pistono prize for architecture. Between 1933 and 1948, he worked in his father's office, and took part in several architecture competitions (e.g. the Farmers Association Building in Cuneo, the Fascist House in Voghera, and, after World War II, the Monument to the Partisan, which was created in collaboration with the sculptor Umberto Mastroianni. The Monument to the Partisan was placed in the Generale cemetery of Turin after winning the competition.
Between 1936 and 1939, Mollino designs, in collaboration with Vittorio Baudi di Selve, the Società Ippica Torinese building in Turin, considered his masterpiece. However, this building was destroyed in 1960. This work breaks with the past and the regime, refusing the rationalist school and taking inspiration from Alvar Aalto and Erich Mendelsohn.
Carlo Mollino loved the mountains and was a ski enthusiast; he wrote the book "Trattato sul Discesismo" where he explained his personal skiing technique with many illustrations. He designed some mountain houses like the Casa del Sole in Cervinia, Aosta Valley and the Slittovia of Lago Nero in Sauze d'Oulx, in Piedmont. In this work, all the art of Mollino is shown: a large, modern terrace protruding from the main volume contrasts with the traditional materials of the building. This building, placed on the ski runs and reachable during the winter only by ski, has been restored in 2001 and now contains temporary expositions.
In 1952, Mollino designed the RAI Auditorium in Turin, which was radically restored bringing big changes to the original structure in 2006.
In the first half of the sixties, he directed the team of architects responsible for the design of the INA-Casa district in Turin and he is placed second in the competition for the design of the Palazzo del Lavoro building in Turin, won by Pier Luigi Nervi, for the 100th anniversary celebration of the unification of Italy (1961).
In the last years of his life (between 1965 and 1973) he designed the two buildings that made him famous: the Camera di Commercio building and the Teatro Regio Torino (Regio Theater), both in Turin. Before his death he completed the projects for the FIAT Directional Centre in Candiolo, the AEM building in Turin, and the Club Mediterranèe in Sestriere.
- Società Ippica Torinese, Turin (1937, destroyed in 1960)
- Slittovia del lago Nero, Sauze d'Oulx (1946)
- House on the Agra plateau (1952)
- Auditorium RAI, Turin (1952)
- Casa del Sole, Cervinia (1955)
- Widening of Aeroclub Torino building, Turin (1958)
- Camera di commercio, Turin (1964)
- Teatro Regio Torino, Turin (1973)
Apartments and interiors
- Casa Miller, Turin (1936)
- Casa Devalle, Turin (1939-40)
- Casa Minola, Turin (1944-46)
- Casa Orengo, Turin (1949)
- Casa Rivetti, Turin (1949)
- Casa Mollino, Turin (1960-1968)
- Casa Pistoi, Turin (1968)
A world record price for a piece of 20th Century Furniture was set in June 2005 when a piece designed by Carlo Mollino was auctioned by Christie's New York: An oak and glass table for Casa Orengo from 1949 sold for $3,824,000.
His work was included in the exhibition Italy at Work 1950-54 which brought him and other Italian industrial designers to the attention of Americans.
Works and projects unrealized
- 1940: Reconstruction of the shelter Kind a Sauze d'Oulx
- 1954: Expansion of the hospital in Rivoli (Torino)
- 1954: Cappella dell'istituto Luce Nuova di Giaveno
- 1966: Plan of Sauze d'Oulx
- 1968: Dépendance Branca (garage with services) Lignan – Saint Barthèlemy (Nus – Aosta)
A huge collection of erotic polaroids taken by Mollino were discovered after his death. Each image was carefully composed with costumes, furniture and backdrops reflecting Mollino's refined aesthetic.
- "Carlo Mollino (Italian, 1905-1973). Low Table, ca. 1949". Brooklyn Museum.