Italian architect and designer Carlo Mollino (1905–73) is known to many for his furniture designs. Although none of Mollino’s designs were mass-produced, they command high prices among collectors of twentieth-century furniture and are part of the collections of major design museums. Others recall Mollino for his large secret stash of erotic Polaroids, taken throughout the 1960s and recovered among his personal effects after his death. The risqué photos have been the subject of several exhibitions and have inspired fashion designers, including Jeremy Scott, who drew on them when creating a recent collection for Moschino. Much less attention has been devoted to Mollino’s contribution to architecture. With Carlo Mollino: Architect and Storyteller, Napoleone Ferrari and Michelangelo Sabatino offer the first carefully researched and comprehensive study of Mollino’s architectural work. Drawing on rich archival materials, as well as Mollino’s own writings, they argue persuasively that, while Mollino realized relatively few projects, his contributions to architecture—and, in particular, the modernist movement—are both significant and distinctive due to Mollino’s strong affinity with surrealism. The book features both built and unrealized projects, including masterpieces like the Teatro Regio and the Torino Chamber of Commerce and early, lesser-known works like the Torino Horse Riding Club and the Lago Negro chairlift station in the Italian Alps. Lavish illustrations and essays by Ferrari and Sabatino round out this overdue tribute to an extraordinary personality of twentieth-century architecture.

Carlo Mollino (1905–1973) was one of the most inspired mid-20th-century architects and designers. In a career that spanned more than four decades, Mollino designed buildings, homes, cars, aircraft, women’s fashion, and theater sets. He was a renaissance man who sought to articulate movement and sensuality in his designs. Even more compelling are the magically surreal Polaroid images Mollino made in his Turin studio during the last 14 years of his life, seen here in the first-ever collection of Mollino’s carefully honed erotic photographs of women. From 1,500 works, the Ferraris have culled over 250 representative images in which Molino posed his models in evocative clothing, staged the backdrops, and finally, altered the photos with a microscopic paintbrush to attain his ideal view of the female form. Only a few of Mollino’s Polaroids have ever been viewed by the public.

In a career that spanned more than four decades, Carlo Mollino (1905-1973) designed buildings, homes, furniture, cars and aircraft. One of the most dashing figures of mid-century Italy, he was famed for his design finesse and his elegant organicism. Sometime around 1960, he began to seek out women – mostly dancers – in his native Turin, inviting them to his villa for late-night modeling sessions. The models would pose against extraordinary backdrops, designed by Mollino, in clothing, wigs and accessories that he had carefully selected. Finally, having printed the Polaroids, Mollino would painstakingly amend them with an extremely fine brush, to attain his idealized vision of the female form. The pictures, which totaled around 1,200, remained a secret until after his death, in 1973. Only a few were ever publically shown, until the acclaimed first edition of this volume was published by James Crump in 2002. The New Yorker declared, “This lavish selection of several hundred Polaroids preserves the essential mystery of a project both decadent and hermetic. Though clearly the product of a deep obsession, the photographs are deliberately impersonal, each baroque detail an invitation for the viewer to imagine Mollino’s encounters with the women.” Now back in print, with a newly designed cover, this beautiful volume offers a captivating portrait of a unique erotic sensibility.

Everything is permissible as long as it is fantastic, Carlo Mollino once said, accurately describing his attitude towards design and architecture. Known as one of the most versatile architects of the twentieth century, Mollino, an amazing sportsman and inspiring creative force in many fields, designed a 23-apartment, Modernist ski chalet called Casa del Sole (House of the Sun) in Cevinia, Italy, in 1947. It is a perfect example of the lively complexity typical of his work. This beautifully produced, clothbound volume with a tipped-on cover image develops as a sort of architectural novel, including drawings, photographs and writings by Mollino about the design and building process. When it was built, Casa del Sole proposed to create modern yet economic housing that would help develop tourism in the Italian Alps after the Second World War–an extremely difficult period in that country’s history. The architecturally sophisticated building was furnished very minimally, and pushed the conceptual vanguard of the time with its pared-down lines and use of basic industrial building materials. Later, the penthouse of the building was inhabited by the famous Austrian skier Leo Gasperl, the fastest man in the sport between 1932 and 1947. Mollino, also a passionate skier, an instructor and the author of a 334-page manual on ski technique, dreamed of a functional, disciplined building for the sportsman–a Modernist concrete structure utilizing the traditional stone and wood constructions of Northern Italy.

×