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In his brief but brilliant career, Joe Colombo created some of the most memorable products of the 1960s. Not only did Colombo die tragically young – but he also started late in life as a designer after devoting his twenties to painting and sculpture. Read more.

Colombo was born in Milan in 1930. His design mission was “to create the environment of the future” and he was singularly devoted to its pursuit. Once, when told one of his designs had been ripped off by rivals, he did not erupt in fury: instead, he calmly stated – “We’ll just have to make it better than them.”

Colombo is especially well-known for his 4801 armchair by Kartell. Not until 2011 has the technology existed for this iconic piece to be made in plastic (as Columbo intended). Before that it was made from plywood and was not especially affordable. It can be seen in the V & A, MoMA and the Georges Pompidou. It is also available to purchase from Design 55.

Joe Colombo died of heart failure on his forty-first birthday in 1971. Close.

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