Carlo Scarpa

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Scarpa studying the drawings of Frank Lloyd Wright in Venice, 1954

Carlo Scarpa (2 June 1906 – 28 November 1978) was an Italian architect and designer. He was influenced by the materials, landscape, and history of Venetian culture, as well as that of Japan.[1] Scarpa translated his interests in history, regionalism, invention, and the techniques of the artist and craftsman into ingenious glass and furniture design.[2][3][4]


Scarpa was born in Venice on 2 June 1906. Much of his early childhood was spent in Vicenza, where his family relocated when he was two years old. After his mother's death when he was 13, he moved with his father and brother back to Venice. Carlo attended the Academy of Fine Arts where he focused on architectural studies. After he graduated from the Academy with the title of Professor of Architecture, he apprenticed with the architect Francesco Rinaldo. Scarpa married Rinaldo's niece, Nini Lazzari (Onorina Lazzari).

However, Scarpa refused to sit the pro forma professional exam administered by the Italian government after World War II. As a consequence, he was not permitted to practice architecture without associating with an architect. Hence, those who worked with him, his clients, associates, craftspersons, called him "Professor", rather than "architect".

Castelvecchio Museum stairs by Scarpa

Scarpa's architecture is deeply sensitive to the passage of time, from seasons to history, rooted in a sensuous material imagination. He was Mario Botta's thesis adviser along with Giuseppe Mazzariol; the latter was the director of the Fondazione Querini Stampalia when Scarpa completed his renovation and garden for that institution. Scarpa taught drawing and interior decoration at the Istituto universitario di architettura di Venezia from the late 1940s until his death. While most of his built work is located in the Veneto region, he designed landscapes, gardens, and buildings for other regions of Italy as well as Canada, the United States, Saudi Arabia, France and Switzerland. His name has 11 letters and this is used repeatedly in his architecture.[5]

One of his last projects, the Villa Palazzetto in Monselice, left incomplete at the time of his death, was altered in October 2006 by his son Tobia. This work is one of Scarpa's most ambitious landscape and garden projects, the Brion Sanctuary notwithstanding. It was executed for Aldo Businaro, the representative for Cassina who was responsible for Scarpa's first trip to Japan. Businaro died in August 2006, a few months before the completion of the new stair at the Villa Palazzetto, built to commemorate Scarpa's centenary.

In 1978, while in Sendai, Japan, Scarpa fell down a flight of concrete stairs. He died of his injuries after ten days in hospital. He is buried standing up and wrapped in linen sheets in the style of a medieval knight, in an isolated exterior corner of his L-shaped Brion tomb at San Vito d'Altivole in Veneto.

In 1984, the Italian composer Luigi Nono dedicated to Scarpa a composition for orchestra in micro-intervals, A Carlo Scarpa, Architetto, Ai suoi infiniti possibili.[6]

Design career[edit]

Museo di Castelvecchio in Verona. Photo by Paolo Monti, 1982 (Fondo Paolo Monti, BEIC).

Scarpa was a designer as well as an architect. At the beginning of his career, he collaborated with glassmakers in Murano. He designed jars and chandeliers for MVM Cappellin & Co. and Venini. His designs for Venini have sold for high prices at auction, including a 1940 vase that sold at Christie's in 2012 for around $309,000, and another vase, found in a thrift store, which sold in 2023 for $107,100.[7][8]

Furthermore, Scarpa joined the industrial design world in the 1960s after meeting Dino Gavina. Scarpa became the president of the eponymous company Gavina.

In 1968, after the founding of Studio Simon, Scarpa started to design industrial furniture.

He designed pieces for Simon and Bernini.[9] The Doge table (1968) and the Cornaro sofa (1973) are the most famous.[10]

Notable works[edit]


  1. ^ Carlo Scarpa and Japan. The influence of Japanese art and architecture in the work of Carlo Scarpa.
  2. ^ Albertini, Bianca; Bagnoli, Alessandro (1988). Carlo Scarpa: Architecture in Details. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. ISBN 0262011077.
  3. ^ Barovier, Marina (1991). Carlo Scarpa: I Vetri Di Murano 1927-1947. Venezia : Il cardo. OCLC 26484061.
  4. ^ Smith, Roberta (5 December 2013). "Clear, Opaque and Oh, So Delizioso 'Venetian Glass by Carlo Scarpa' at the Met". The New York Times.
  5. ^ Frascari, Marco (June 1999). "Architectural Traces of an Admirable Cipher: Eleven in the Opus of Carlo Scarpa". Nexus Network Journal. 1 (1–2): 7–22. doi:10.1007/s00004-998-0002-4.
  6. ^ "A Carlo Scarpa, architetto, ai suoi infiniti possibili". Archivio Luigi Nono (Luigi Nono Archive). Retrieved 3 April 2020.
  7. ^ Boucher, Brian (13 December 2023). "A Carlo Scarpa Vase Found in a Thrift Store Makes $107,000 at Auction". Artnet News. Retrieved 16 December 2023.
  8. ^ "$4 thrift-store vase sells for $107,100 at auction". The Art Newspaper - International art news and events. 14 December 2023. Retrieved 16 December 2023.
  9. ^ "Carlo Scarpa, Sandro Bagnoli". Retrieved 5 January 2024.
  10. ^ "Carlo Scarpa, When Design Comes from Creativity". Italian Design Club. 18 January 2022. Retrieved 14 February 2022.
  11. ^ Scarpa carried out "sensitive restoration work" on the building."Carlo Scarpa, Architect". Retrieved 17 January 2017.
  12. ^ Museo Nazionale della Arti Dell XXI Secolo (1950). "Collezioni XX secolo torna indietro Padiglione del libro d'arte, Giardini di Castello". MAXXI. Archived from the original on 28 September 2015. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  13. ^ Polano, Sergio (1989). "Carlo Scarpa: Palazzo Abatellis : La Galleria della Sicilia, Palermo 1953-54". Milan : Mondadori Electa.
  14. ^ Scarpa, Carlo. "Venezuelan Pavilion (1954-56), Venice Architecture Biennale 2014". La Biennale. Archived from the original on 21 September 2015. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  15. ^ Olsberg, Nicholas; Ranalli, George; Bedard, Jean-Francios; Polano, Sergio; Di Lieto, Alba; Friedman, Mildred (1999). "Carlo Scarpa, architect : Intervening With History". Getty Search Gateway. Montreal, Quebec, Canada : Canadian Centre For Architecture New York : Monacelli Press.
  16. ^ "L'ampliamento di Scarpa al Museo di Possagno". Museo Canova. 18 November 2023.
  17. ^ Murphy, Richard (1990). "Carlo Scarpa and the Castelvecchio". London ; Boston : Butterworth Architecture, 1990.
  18. ^ Camerlengo, Lia (1984). "Negozio Olivetti, Procuratie vecchie, piazza S. Marco, Venezia, 1957 – 1958". Getty Search Gateway. Milano : Electa. p. 120.
  19. ^ "Carlo Scarpa". Fondazione Querini Stampalia. Archived from the original on 1 January 2022. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  20. ^ Murphy, Richard (1993). "Querini Stampalia Foundation : Carlo Scarpa". Getty Search Gateway. London : Phaidon.
  21. ^ Duboy, Phillipe; Noever, Peter; Noever, Peter (1989). "Carlo Scarpa : the other city : the architect's working method as shown by the Brion cemetery in San Vito d'Altivole". Getty Search Gateway. Berlin : Ernst & Sohn.
  22. ^ Olsberg, Nicholas; Ranalli, George; Bedard, Jean-Francios; Polano, Sergio; di Lieta, Alba; Friedman, Mildred (1999). "Carlo Scarpa, architect : intervening with history". Getty Search Gateway. Montreal, Quebec, Canada : Canadian Centre For Architecture ; New York : Monacelli Press.
  23. ^ "Clásicos de Arquitectura: Restauración del Museo de Castelvecchio en Verona / Carlo Scarpa". ArchDaily México (in Mexican Spanish). 18 June 2014. Retrieved 10 January 2023.


  • Beltramini, Guido; Zannier, Italo (2007). Carlo Scarpa: Architecture and Design. New York: Rizzoli.
  • Crippa, Maria Antonietta. (1986). Loffi Randolin, Marina (ed.). "Carlo Scarpa: Theory, Design, Projects". Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.
  • Dal Co, Francesco; Mazzariol, Giuseppe (1984). "Carlo Scarpa: opera completa". Getty Search Gateway (in Italian). Milan: Electa.
  • Dal Co, Francesco; Mazzariol, Giuseppe (1985). Carlo Scarpa: The Complete Works. Milan: Electa; New York: Rizzoli.
  • Dal Co, Francesco (2009). To Construct, to Compose: Carlo Scarpa and the Villa Ottolenghi. Amsterdam: SUN.
  • Guidi, Guido (2011). Carlo Scarpa's Tomba Brion. Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz.
  • Giunta, Santo (2020). Carlo Scarpa. A [curious] shaft of light, a golden standard, the hands and a face of a woman. Reflections on the design process and layout of Palazzo Abatellis 1953-1954. Foreword by Richard Murphy; Afterword by Giampiero Bosoni, Marsilio, Venice, ISBN 978-88-297-0654-9.
  • Los, Sergio (1967). "Carlo Scarpa, architetto poeta". Getty Search Gateway (in Italian). London: RIBA.
  • Los, Sergio (1995). "Carlo Scarpa : guida all'architettura" (in Italian). Venice: Arsenale.
  • Los, Sergio (2009). Carlo Scarpa: 1906-1978: A Poet of Architecture. Taschen. ISBN 978-3822821121.
  • McCarter, Robert (2013). Carlo Scarpa. London: Phaidon Press. (2nd edition, 2017)
  • Olsberg, Nicholas; Ranalli, George; Polano, Sergio; Di Lietio, Alba; Freidman, Mildred; Bedard, Jean-Francois; Guidi, Guido (1999). Carlo Scarpa, Architect: Intervening with History (1st ed.). New York: Canadian Centre For Architecture: Monacelli Press. p. 256. ISBN 1580930352.
  • Schultz, Anne-Catrin (2007). Carlo Scarpa: Layers. Stuttgart: Edition Axel Menges.
  • Semi, Franca (2010). A Lezione con Carlo Scarpa (in Italian). Venice: Cicero. ISBN 9788889632260.
  • Sonego, Carla (1995). Carlo Scarpa. Gli anni della formazione. Venice: IUAV, (unpublished thesis, Professor Marco De Michelis, supervisor). (in Italian)

External links[edit]