Gaetano Pesce

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Gaetano Pesce
Born 1939
La Spezia
Nationality Italian
Occupation Architect
Practice architect, designer, educator
Organic building - Osaka
L'Organic Building (1993) a Osaka
Up chair, designed for C&B Italia (now B&B Italia), 1969
I Feltri, designed for Cassina (1987)
Gaetano pesce, vassoio in resina 03
Divano modulabile (2005) ispirato del tipico pane soffiato milanese

Gaetano Pesce (born 1939) is an Italian architect and a leading figure in contemporary industrial design. Pesce was born in La Spezia in 1939, and he spent his childhood in Padua and Florence.[1] He studied architecture at the University of Venice, studying with notable teachers like Carlo Scarpa and Ernesto Rogerand. Between 1958 to 1963, he participated in Gruppo N, an early collective concerned with programmed art patterned after the Bauhaus. During a career spanning five decades, Pesce has worked as architect and urban planner, and also interior, exhibition and product designer, worldwide, seeking to reassert meaningful connections between individuals and society through art, architecture, and design.


Gaetano Pesce has been known since the start of his career in the 1960s to relate art to interior, product, industrial and architectural design.[2] New York Times critic Herbert Muschamp described Pesce as "the architectural equivalent of a brainstorm." [3] Pesce's most well known works of architecture are Organic Building in Osaka, Japan, a Landmark vertical garden building, designed to concealing a complex, computer-controlled hydration system of pipes to sustain plant growth, and the much-discussed interior architecture of the Chiat/Day offices, an early workplace village modeled after urban life.[4] Other influential contemporary architecture projects include Les Halles ACIH, (1979) and Parc de la Villette (1985), in Paris, France, and of the latter, the overall plan of a complex of buildings forms the shape of a running child. [5]

Pesce's prototypes, three-dimensional models, and architectural drawings, such as the Church of Solitude Project (1974–77), considered works of art in their own right, are held in permanent museum collections around the world, including the MoMA,[6][7] Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum,[8] in New York City; the Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA,[9] San Francisco Museum of Art, California,[10] Victoria and Albert Museum, London,[11] Vitra Design Museum, Germany,[12] Danish Museum of Art & Design, Copenhagen, Centre Pompidou [13] and Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris in France, and the Museum of the Milan Triennale, Italy.[14]

Architecture Projects, selected[edit]

" 09 - ITALY - TDM - Red armchair - Serie UP (UP5 and UP6) Gaetano Pesce chairs and B&B Italia at Triennale Design Museum

Industrial Design[edit]

Since the 1960s, Pesce has researched the function and form of utilitarian and decorative objects, such as furniture, jewelry, and shoes, from the perspective of human emotion, environment, and production. Pesce is known for innovative high-minded modern design of wit and style. According to critic Susan Slesin, "For Gaetano Pesce, to be modern is to face the world squarely and use design as a means to comment on it.[22] Pesce has challenged established notions of Modernism by creating functional, imperfect, and warm product design.[23] He connects art and society to design of organic forms, such as sea creatures, as inspiration. Since 1962, Pesce has created design, such as the "UP-Series" seating, made of polyurethane foam which inflates after being unpacked, for B&B Italia (formerly C & B Italia), and furniture design for Vitra, and Cassina, and his fabric design People (1987), a bright pattern of 570 different figures, incorporating ideas about variation and diversity relevant to not only industrial design but contemporary society, by challenging excepted standards of abstraction, uniformity, and homogeneity.

For Pesce, the design and development of portable goods has always included a consideration of craft-specialization, a sense of history, humor, the human need for connectedness, sociopolitical organization, and societal complexities. He has generated new industrial design techniques, such as diversified series production, [24] a process by which experimental materials, and a craft manufacturing sensibility, are integrated into mass production methodology. On the production line, for example, factory workers may vary the proportions of material, for instance, to produce a series of tables which have a "one of a kind" handmade quality. [25] Since 1987, Pesce has experimented with techniques to infuse ordinary materials with experimental additives, such as liquid plant resin to simplify the manufacturing processes enough for a country of limited industrial capabilities. Specific socio-political messaging is sometimes found in these objects, like the Nobody's Perfect (2002) chair,[22] and a 2010 series of 60 distinct, irregularly shaped tables, for Cassina, which together form the recognizable shape of a boot shape, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy.[26] Decades of curatoration of Pesce's designed objects, prototyes, and sketches by galleries and museums ascribe the work to the realm of functional art. In 2014, a retrospective exhibitionThe Time of Diversity at the MAXXI, National Museum of the 21st Century Arts, Rome, charted the artfulness of Pesce's product design, from the 1960s to the present.[27]

Gallery and museum exhibitions[edit]

Pesce's architecture and design has been published, exhibited, and collected internationally and included in the permanent collections of museums around the world.

Solo Exhibitions[edit]

  • 1983: Gaetano Pesce : a Yale School of Architecture Exhibition.[28][29]
  • 1986: Gaetano Pesce 1975-1985. Strasbourg Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, France.[30]
  • 1988: Gaetano Pesce: Drawings, Models, Prototypes. Max Protetch Gallery, New York [31]
  • 1988: Modern Times Again. Steelcase Design Partnership, New York, N.Y.
  • 1991: Gaetano Pesce. Collaborative Exhibition. Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel [32] Peter Joseph Gallery, New York
  • 1996: Gaetano Pesce Le temps des questions, retrospective. Forum of the Centre Pompidou, Paris, France.[33]
  • 1997: Gaetano Pesce, Material Connection, New York, N.Y.[34]
  • 1997: Currents 69: GAETANO PESCE. Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, MO.
  • 1999: Gaetano Pesce: The Presence of the Objects. Columbia GSAPP, Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture.[35]
  • 2002: Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Louvre Museum, Paris, France.
  • 2005: Gaetano Pesce: Pushing the Limits. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA.[36]
  • 2005: Gaetano Pesce: Il rumore del tempo. Triennale di Milano, Milan, Italy.[37]
  • 2005: H2O. Gaetano Pesce. Institut Valencià d'Art Modern (IVAM) [38]
  • 2007: Pink Pavilion di Gaetano Pesce, Triennale di Milano, Milan, Italy [39]
  • 2010: Gaetano Pesce: Pieces from a Larger Puzzle. Italian Cultural Institute of Los Angeles, California.[40][41]
  • 2011: L’Italia in Croce di Gaetano Pesce. Venice BiennaleItalian Pavilion, Italian Cultural Institute of New York.[42][43]
  • 2013: Gaetano Pesce: L'Abbraccio. Fred Torres Collaborations, New York [44][45]
  • 2013: Gaetano Pesce Retrospective. Collective.1 Design Fair, Pier 57, New York, N.Y.[46]
  • 2014: Gaetano Pesce: Il tempo della diversità. una retrospettiva, MAXXI, National Museum of the 21st Century Arts, Rome.[47][48]
  • 2014:Transforming Reality: Italian Design Innovation and Fantasy. Eagle Gallery, Cafesjian Museum of Art, Armenia [49]
  • 2014: Gaetano Pesce: Retrospective. Sotheby's Gallery Charpentier, Paris, France.[50]
  • 2015: Frammenti e figure architettoniche ai quattro angoli del mondo. Galleria Antonia Jannone, Milano, Italy.[51]
  • 2015: Gaetano Pesce: ‘One of a Kind Iconic Works, 1967-2015. Allouche Gallery, New York [52]
  • 2015: Gaetano Pesce: For Her. Reinstein Ross Gallery, 30 Gansevoort Street, NYC [53]
  • 2015: Performance nell’installazione : La Cucina Luogo di Passione. Triennale Design Museum, Milan, Italy.[54]
  • 2015: Gaetano Pesce: Frammenti e figure architettoniche ai quattro angoli del mondo. Galleria Antonia Jannone, Milan, Italy [55]
  • 2016: Fish Design Maison & Objet, Paris [56]

Group Exhibitions and programs[edit]

Architecture on Film: Italy – The New Domestic Landscape, MoMA, 1972 + Q&A with Gaetano Pesce and Peter Lang. [59]
  • 1975: The Future Is Perhaps Past. Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, France.
  • 1979: Transformations in Modern Architecture. MoMA, New York.[60]
  • 1986: L'eau en formes (Water forms): Vittel Design 86. Centre Georges Pompidou, France.[61]
  • 1995: Mutant Materials in Contemporary Design. Museum of Modern Art, New York, N.Y.[62]
  • 1997: Designed for Delight: Alternative aspects of twentieth-century decorative arts. traveling exhibition.
Canadian Museum of History; Cincinnati Art Museum, OH; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Canada;
Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Paris, France.[63]
and Istituto Statale d'Arte di Venezia, Venice, Italy.[64]
Museum of Art & Design, (formerly American Craft Museum), New York, N.Y.[69]

Academic experience[edit]

For 28 years, Pesce taught architectural design at the collegiate level at the Institut National des Sciences Appliquées (INSA) (National Institute of Applied Sciences), Strasbourg, France, Domus Academy, Milan, Italy, City University of Hong Kong,China, Escola da Cidade, (AEAUSP), (Architectural School of São Paulo), Brazil, and in the United States, at Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh, PA, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH,.[76] and in New York, where he has lived since 1980, as Visiting Professor of architecture at the Cooper Union.

Professional Recognition[edit]


  1. ^ "The Collection: Gaetano Pesce Italian, born 1939". MoMA. 
  2. ^ Perry, Amy (May 8, 2013). "The Legendary Gaetano Pesce on Work and Life". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ Muschamp, Herbert (October 16, 1994). "It's A Mad Mad Mad Ad World". The New York Times. 
  4. ^ Turner, Gavin; Myerson, Jeremy (1998). New Workspace, New Culture: Office Design as a Catalyst for Change. Gower Publishing Company. pp. 144 pages. ISBN 0566080281. 
  5. ^ Vanlaethem, France (1989). Gaetano Pesce : architecture, design, art. New York: Rizzoli. pp. 126 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 30 cm. ISBN 0847810860. 
  6. ^ Gaetano Pesce: Architecture, Design, Art (1st ed.). United States of America: Rizzoli International Publications. 1989. ISBN 0847810860. 
  7. ^ "The Collection: Gaetano Pesce". MoMA. The Museum of Modern Art. 
  8. ^ "Gaetano Pesc". 
  9. ^ "Collections: Gaetano Pesce". Philadelphia Museum of Art. 
  10. ^ "Gaetano Pesce Italian 1939, La Spezia, Italy". 
  11. ^ a b reddot online (2006-02-07). "Gaetano Pesce is AW Ontwerper van het Jaar". Retrieved 2007-03-27. 
  12. ^ "UP5 & UP6 Donna (1969): Gaetano Pesce". The Vitra Museum. 1982. 
  13. ^ "Gaetano Pesce". The Centre Pompidou. 
  14. ^ Aa.Vv. (2012). 100 objects of italian design La Triennale di Milano: Permanent Collection of Italian Design, The Milan Triennale. Gangemi Editore. ISBN 9788849247060. 
  15. ^ Didero, Maria Cristina (August 28, 2014). "The value of imperfection". Domus. 
  16. ^ Barzilay, Marianne; Lombard - Valentino, Lucette; Hayward, Catherine (1984). L'Invention Du Parc : Parc De La Villette, Paris, Concours International; Parc De La Villette, Paris [International competition, 1982 - 1983]. Paris: Graphite / E.P.P.V. 
  17. ^ Hayat, Yves J (1993). Gaetano Pesce : la maison Hubin. Paris: Galerie Catherine et Stéphane de Beyrie. 
  18. ^ Lieber, Ronald B. (December 9, 1996). "Cool Offices Blowing Out Your Walls and Gettng Rid of Private Offices Is A Great Way To Eencourge Teamwork; Just Be Sure to Respect People's Need for Peace and Quiet". Fortune Magazine. 
  19. ^ "Gaetano Pesce retrospective opens in NYC". Archinet News. May 2013. 
  20. ^ Ballen, Sian; Hauge, Lesley (November 9, 2012). "Ruth Shuman". New York Social Diary. 
  21. ^ Sutherland, Jim (March 22, 2013). "20 Odd Questions: Gaetano Pesce". The Wall Street Journal. 
  22. ^ a b Slesin, Suzanne (November 10, 1988). "Modern Notions Of Design: The Furniture of Gaetano Pesce". The New York Times. 
  23. ^ Sutherland, Jim (March 23, 2013). "Gaetano Pesce: the provocative Italian architect and designer on his history of doing things 'badly'-on purpose, of course". The Wall Street Journal. 
  24. ^ Viladas, Pilar (June 23, 2002). "What's the Big Idea?". The New York Times. 
  25. ^ Giovannini, Joseph (March 26, 2015). "Gaetano Pesce: ‘One-of-a-Kind Iconic Works, 1967-2015". NY Times Art & Design. 
  26. ^ "Sensantunna". Cassina. 
  27. ^ Manuelli, Sara (July 24, 2014). "Design maverick Gaetano Pesce explores diversity in a retrospective at the Maxxi Museum, Rome". 
  28. ^ Martin, Douglas (April 22, 1984). "Spring In La Cite". The New York Times: Travel. 
  29. ^ Gaetano Pesce : a Yale School of Architecture Exhibition, October 31-December 2, 1983. New Haven, Conn. : Yale School of Architecture. 1983. 
  30. ^ Pesce, Gaetano (1986). "Gaetano Pesce, 1975-1985: Musée d'art moderne de Strasbourg, 29 mai-17 août 1986.". Strasbourg: Le Musée. OCLC 192378148. 
  31. ^ Slesin, Suzanne (November 10, 1988). "Modern Notions Of Design: The Furniture of Gaetano Pesce". The New York Times: Home & Garden. 
  32. ^ "Architecture and Design". 
  33. ^ "Gaetano Pesce : Le temps des questions". 
  34. ^ Ward, Timothy Jack (October 16, 1997). "Currents: GAETANO PESCE -- Somewhere Over the Rainbow". The New York Times: Home & Garden. 
  35. ^ Pesce, Gaetano (1999). Columbia University. Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation; Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture, eds. "Gaetano Pesce, the presence of objects". OCLC 642574824. 
  36. ^ Hiesinger, Curator, Kathryn (October 21, 2005). "Gaetano Pesce's Design is Subject of 'Pushing the Limits' at Philadelphia Museum of Art: November 18 through April 9, 2006,". Philadelphia Museum of Art. 
  37. ^ "Gaetano Pesce: Il rumore del tempo". Triennale di Milano. 2005. 
  38. ^ Gaetano Pesce. Valencia: IVAM, Institut Valencià d'Art Modern : Generalitat Valenciana, Conselleria de Cultura, Educació. 2005. 
  39. ^ "Pink Pavilion di Gaetano Pesce". La Triennale di Milano. 2007. 
  41. ^ Hodge, Brooke (July 8, 2010). "Seeing Things: Gaetano Pesce in L.A.". New York Times Magazine. 
  42. ^ "PADIGLIONE ITALIA NEL MONDO-VENICE BIENNALE 2011: Gaetano Pesce and Angelo Filomeno exhibition". IICNew York. Italian Cultural Institute in New York. 
  43. ^ Zandardi, Eva (October 3, 2011). "Gaetano Pesce and Angelo Filomeno, An Exhibition On view at La Galleria, Italian Cultural Institute of New York". The Italian Cultural Institute of New York. 
  44. ^ "Fred Torres Gallery". 
  45. ^ Hanley, William (March 29, 2013). "Exhibition: Gaetano Pesce: L'Abbraccio". Architectural Record. 
  46. ^ Perry, Amy (May 8, 2013). "The Legendary Gaetano Pesce on Work and Life". The New York Times Style magazine. 
  47. ^ Fondazione MAXXI. "Gaetano Pesce. The time of diversity: 26 June 2014 - 5 October 2014". MAXXI: Museo Nazionale Delle Arti Del XXI Secolo. 
  48. ^ Manuelli, Sara (July 24, 2014). "Design maverick Gaetano Pesce explores diversity in a retrospective at the Maxxi Museum, Rome". Wallpaper. 
  49. ^ "Transforming Reality: Italian Design Innovation and Fantasy". Cafesjian Center for the Arts. 2014. 
  50. ^ "Sotheby’s: Gaetano Pesce". Domus. 2014. 
  51. ^ ""Scraps and sketches from all over the world", drawings by Gaetano Pesce".  External link in |website= (help)
  52. ^ Giovannini, Joseph (April 16, 2015). "Gaetano Pesce: ‘One of a Kind Iconic Works, 1967-2015". The New York Times. 
  53. ^ "Gaetano Pesce: For Her". Reinstein Ross Gallery. 2015. 
  54. ^ "Performance nell’installazione "La Cucina. Luogo di passione" di Gaetano Pesce".  External link in |website= (help)
  55. ^ ""Scraps and sketches from all over the world", drawings by Gaetano Pesce". BMIAA. April 30, 2015. 
  56. ^ Pesce, Gaetano. "Fish Design - Hall 7 — Stand G175". Maison&Objet Paris 2015. 
  57. ^ Benyamin, Jasmine (September 2014). "Reviewed Work: Environments and Counter Environments. "Italy: The New Domestic Landscape," MoMA, 1972". Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 73 (3): 436–437. doi:10.1525/jsah.2014.73.3.436?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents (inactive 2016-01-11). 
  58. ^ Shaw, Elizabeth (May 26, 1972). "Italy: The New American Landscape" (26). The Museum of Modern Art. 
  59. ^ Architecture on Film. "Italy – The New Domestic Landscape, MoMA, 1972 + Q&A with Gaetano Pesce and Peter Lang: Thurs 28 November 2013, 7pm". The Architecture Foundation. 
  60. ^ Bartolucci, Marisa; Cabra, Raul (2003). Gaetano Pesce: Compact Design Portfolio. Chronicle Books LLC. p. 96. ISBN 9780811837880. 
  61. ^ "Histoire du CENTRE GEORGES POMPIDOU : Chronologies". 
  62. ^ Antonelli, Paola, ed. (1995). Mutant Materials in Contemporary Design. New York: Museum of Modern Art. ISBN 0870701320. 
  63. ^ Eidelberg, Ed., Martin P. (1997). Designed for delight: alternative aspects of twentieth-century decorative arts. Flammarion. p. 320. ISBN 2080135953. 
  64. ^ Dorigato, A.; Klein, D.; Mentasti, R.B. "nternational new glass 1998 : Venezia aperto vetro". Milan: Electa. OCLC 40471050. 
  65. ^ Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. "Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum Presents Second "National Design Triennial: Inside Design Now" Reviews Cutting-edge U.S. Design of Past Three Years". 
  66. ^ Muschamp, Herbery (April 25, 2003). "Design Review : The National Design Triennial, A Frontier Spirit in Anxious Times". The New York Times: Art & Design. 
  67. ^ Villarreal, Ignacio (2004). "The Brooks Presents US DESIGN, 1975-2000". Art Daily. 
  68. ^ Johnson, Ken (August 8, 2003). "Art Review: Elegance, Wit and Pop in a Quarter-Century of American Design". The New York Times: Art & Design. 
  69. ^ Hamilton, William L. (June 19, 2003). "Trading Baskets For Plastics". The New York Times: Home & Garden. 
  70. ^ "Formless Furniture,". 
  71. ^ Brake, Alan G. (September 3, 2008). "Fitful Sleep Dreamland: Architectural Experiments Since the 1970s". The Architect's Newspaper. 
  72. ^ Lasky, Julie (December 12, 2012). "After the Boom, a Better Kind of Art". The New York Times. 
  73. ^ "Pop Art and Pop Art Design, the Nexus of What was Radical and New". Art Tatler. June 29, 2013. 
  74. ^ "New Territories Laboratories for Design, Craft and Art in Latin America November 4, 2014 to April 5, 2015". madmuseum.or. 
  75. ^ "VIII Triennale Design Museum; Kitchen Invaders". Tiennale di Milano. April 9, 2015. 
  76. ^ Vanlaethem, France (1989). Architecture, design, art (1. publ. in the United States of America. ed.). New York: Rizzoli. ISBN 0847810860. 
  77. ^ Chrysler design awards homepage
  78. ^ "Gaetano Pesce Biography". Artnet. 
  79. ^ "Good Design Awards". 
  80. ^ Press release
  81. ^ "Interior Design Department 2009 Lawrence J. Israel Prize: Gaetano Pesce". The Fashion Institute of Technology. June 2009. 
  82. ^ "PADIGLIONE ITALIA NEL MONDO-VENICE BIENNALE 2011: October 03, 2011". Italian Cultural Institute of New York. October 3, 2011. 

External links[edit]