Born in Milan, he was arrested in 1943 for putting up anti-Fascist posters. He was deported to Mauthausen as a forced labourer, where he met the architect Ludovico Belgiojoso who later invited him to join his practice in Milan.
He moved to London in the early 1950s where he took evening classes in typography at the Central School of Art & Design, and participated in the seminal 1956 exhibition of pop art, This is Tomorrow, at the Whitechapel Gallery.
By the late 1950s he was art director at Aldus Books and working as an interior designer, working briefly in Paris. It was his interior for the Poetry Bookshop in Soho that inspired the director of Penguin, Allen Lane, to invite him to join as the art director in 1960. Facetti was instrumental in redesigning the Penguin line, introducing phototypesetting, the 'Marber grid', offset-litho printing and photography to their paperback covers.
Facetti was also responsible for the black cover designs of the Penguin Classics series from 1963. He recruited a number of leading designers of the day, and one of his important achievements for Penguin was to impose a consistently high standard of cover design.
In November 1971 Facetti traveled to Chile to collaborate in the formation of the School of Graphic Design of the Catholic University of Valparaíso.
After leaving Penguin in 1972 Facetti worked for the publishing company Fabbri in Milan, in his native Italy. He was called to work on the team by his friend and editorial director Giorgio Giulio Savorelli, with whom he had collaborated in the past. He collaborated with Chris Marker on the 1962 groundbreaking experimental new wave film, La jetée.
While at Penguin, Facetti wrote an account of his aims, published in 1967 and reprinted in 2007.
Facetti died on 8 April 2006, aged 79.
Year of birth
Sources citing 1926 as Facetti's year of birth, not 1928:
- http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4159/is_20060416/ai_n16166320* https://web.archive.org/web/20080112203542/http://www.designmuseum.org/design/penguin-books
- Richard Hollis (2006-04-11). "Germano Facetti". The Guardian.
- Rick Poynor (2006-04-12). "Underneath the covers". The Guardian.
- Martin Yates, ed. (2006). The Penguin Companion. Penguin Collectors Society.
- Phil Baines and Steve Hare, ed. (2007). Penguin by Designers. Penguin Collectors Society. pp. 29–48.