Celebrated for his thoughtful, radical, and experimental body of work, Italian architect-designer Michele De Lucchi has been an influential voice in the international design scene from the 1980s until today.
De Lucchi was born in Ferrara in 1951 and studied architecture in Padua and Florence, graduating in 1975. During his time as a student, he collaborated with Cavart, a group of like-minded radical designers in Padua, and later joined Studio Alchimia in Milan at the invitation of architect-designer Ettore Sottsass (1917-2007).
In 1980, under the direction of Sottsass, De Lucchi cofounded postmodern design group Memphis, alongside his colleagues Martine Bedin, Andrea Branzi, Aldo Cibic, Hans Hollein, Arata Isozaki, Shiro Kuramata, Javier Mariscal, Alessandro Mendini, Luciano Paccagnella, Nathalie du Pasquier, Barbara Radice, George Sowden, Matteo Thun, and Marco Zanini. Inspired by Pop Art and looking to disrupt business-as-usual in the design industry, the group created pieces in clashing, bold color combinations and surprising, conceptually-driven shapes. Their first exhibition in 1981 launched the group into international notoriety. For Memphis, De Lucchi designed Crystal Table (1981), Lido Sofa (1981), Oceanic Lamp (1981), and First Chair (1983), among others. The group disbanded in the late ’80s
In 1990, De Lucchi founded Produzione Privata, a small-scale production and retail company through which he created objects using various arts and craft techniques. From 1992 to 2002, De Lucchi was the Director of Design for Olivetti, where he developed many experimental products and worked on various projects for Compaq Computers, Philips, Siemens, and Vitra. In 1998, he founded the architectural studio aMDL, with offices in Milan and Rome.
De Lucchi has collaborated with many renowned, global design companies, such as Alias, Alessi, Artemide, Baccarat, Hermès, Kartel, Riva 1920, and Dèvres, among others. Notable designs include Tolomeo Lamp for Artemide (1987); Segmenti Office Series for Kartell (1988); and OFX1000 Fax (1995), Echoes 20 Notebook (1995), and Art Jet 20 Printer (1999) for Olivetti. De Lucchi’s architectural merits are vast, from his Trunk Office Building in Pforzheim (2009-2012) and the Pavilion Unicredit in Milan (2013-2015), to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia and Patrol Police Headquarters in Tbilisi (2006-2009).
De Lucchi’s work can be found in many museums worldwide, including the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Triennale di Milano, and the Neues Museum Berlin. Over the course of his career, De Lucchi has received numerous awards, like the Premio Compasso d’Oro ADI in 1987, 1989, 1991, 1994, and 2001; the Golden Fleece Order (2009); and the Presidential Order of Excellency from Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili (2010). In 2015, he was named the Designer of the Year by Architektur & Wohnen.
* Images courtesy of aMDL Archive