Don S. Shoemaker furniture designs, Mexico Mid-century modern and other furniture designers
Building up an icon (mass produced) – Part #9

Building up an icon (mass produced) – Part #9

The innovative Italian furniture firm TECNO S.p.A. was founded in 1953 by Osvaldo and his twin brother Fulgenzio Borsani. Since the early 1920’s Osvaldo´s father, Gaetano Borsani had been running the furniture Atelier Varedo, producing bespoke furniture in line of great deco craftsmanship. In 1932 the company then changed its name to “Arredamenti Borsani Varedo” and opened in Milan. Osvaldo joined the family business as a furniture designer after graduating from the Politecnico di Milano. In the 1940’s he started to experiment with his own designs in collaboration with artists like Aligi Sassu, Agenore Fabbri, Arnaldo Pomodoro, Roberto Crippa, Fausto Melotti, Lucio Fontana and Andrea Cascella, producing some very fine works of art in furnishing and interior architecture.

During the early 1950’s Osvaldo perceived that the bespoke integral interior design projects were paving the way to single pieces of furniture industrially produced: “from craftsmanship to planning #8211; from the atelier to the factory”. In 1954, during the 10th Milan Triennale the newly born TECNO company was introduced with Osvaldo´s Butterfly long seat D70, which together with the Chaise Lounge P40 still are Italian Design icons. As the firm name suggests, TECNO became known for its technology and research-based approach to furniture design. The company soon established itself a reputation for a total commitment on innovation and vanguard design, particularly in the use of metal frames and poly-foam upholstery.

Osvaldo Borsani acted as the company’s sole designer for over 30 years and created most of TECNO#8217;s iconic pieces. From the 1960´s on the company commissioned work from other designers and groups including Carlo De Carli, Gio Ponti and Norman Foster Associates. In 1968 it was the office system “Graphis” (co-designed with Eugenio Gerli, becoming into vogue around the world in a million copies) the spark thanks to which TECNO became a world-leading manufacturer in office design. In 1970 Osvaldo Borsani creates together with Marco Fantoni and Valeria Borsani the “Tecno Design Centre” to experiment with new technologies. Today, TECNO is known for its state of the art furniture for offices and public buildings and has kept a successful project relationship with renowned architects and designers like Gae Aulenti, Emilio Ambasz, Ricardo Bofill, Renzo Piano, Norman Foster, Piero Lissoni, Rafael Moneo, Jean Nouvel, Sir Richard Rogers, Luca Scacchetti, Justus Kolberg, Jean Michael Wilmotte, Jean Francois Bodin and many others.

From craftsmanship to planning. From an Atelier to a Factory. This quintessential sentence of Osvaldo Borsani comprises the effort of 2 generations of great craftsmen whom as stated, started in an atelier that produced beautiful art deco furniture, a very solid corner stone that Osvaldo and his brother used to build the name of TECNO, based in the formula of technology, innovation and co-designing with great names of the time like Lucio Fontana and Arnaldo Pomodoro (check the prices in auction houses for the Coffee Tables and Cabinets/Bars). But the jewels of the crown, the D70 and the P40 established the rank of Osvaldo as a gifted designer. (The P40 can be adjusted to 486 different positions…). The turning point to a mass production factory occurred in 1968 with the collaboration of Eugenio Gerli on the design of the office system “Graphis”. From then on the company will never be the same, now their core business is furniture for office and public buildings. Now the man in black and tie are happy with the bottom line, but it is sad to think that with all the great names that collaborated with TECNO there are only half a dozen pieces of furniture to be remembered by.

#8230;to be continued in part # 10

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One comment

  1. Thank you for your time. I have a few pieces of don shoemaker funiture, and was wanting to date the pieces. They are marked with a paper lable approx. 1 1/4#8243; wide, by approx 1#8243; tall. The white lable is bordered by two brown and green, zig zaging lines. The writing on it is, SENAL S.A. HECHO EN MEXICO. Thank you for your time, and I#8217;m looking forward to talking to you soon. Thanks again, Larry.

    larry kaufman

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