Italian Architect Gae Aulenti’s Iconic Outdoor Furniture Collection
September 23, 2016 by Robin Plaskoff Horton
Over fifty years after the debut of Italian architect Gae Aulenti’s first outdoor furniture collection, Locus Solus for Poltronova, Exteta has re-released the series which they launched at Milan Design Week 2016.
Exteta faithfully reproduces Aulenti’s colorful collection of varnished tubular steel seating, tables, lamps, and lounge chairs, including the exclusive Locus Solus artwork on cushions covered with fully removable and washable fabrics.
A geometric symphony color and tubular steel reminiscent of the classic shapes of bentwood chairs, Aulenti’s fabric patterns and colors bring to mind the Russian-born multi-disciplinary abstract artist Sonya Delaunay, a key figure in the Parisian avant-garde. With her husband, the painter Robert Delaunay, she co-founded the French art movement Simultanism (coined Orphism by French poet Guillaume Apollinaire.)
Simultanism, based on the color theory of French chemist Michel-Eugene Chevreul, was characterized by overlapping planes of simultaneous contrasting colors and the phenomenon of colors appearing different depending on those surrounding them.
One of my favorite artists, Delaunay worked in many mediums including textiles, which Delaunay described as mere “exercises in color” that informed her paintings, her true passion.
Aulenti once described her intention to create furniture “that appears in a room as buildings on a skyline and reminds the viewer of the interaction between objects of design and architectural space.”
The collection appeared in director Jacques Deray’s 1969 Italian-French film La Piscine (The Swimming Pool) starring Alain Delon, Romy Schneider, and Jane Birkin.
Aulenti, who died in 2012 at 84, was formally trained as an architect and one of only a few women recognized by the post-war design industry. She was known for saving numerous important buildings from demise, most notably responsible for the transformation of Paris’s Gare d’Orsay train station into the current art museum known as the Musée d’Orsay.
The French government awarded Aulenti the Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur for her direction of the museum’s interior design. About the Musée d’Orsay, Aulenti said, “I viewed the station as a place, a terrain where I could put a new architecture in place.”
Unless otherwise noted, all images via Exteta.