Italian-born Brazilian architect-designer Lina Bo Bardi (1914–1992) was one of the most influential Brazilian modernist architects of the 20th century. Although she is recognized most for her architectural projects, Bo Bardi was also a talented editor, jewelry designer, set designer, illustrator, furniture designer, and curator.
Born Lina Achillina Bo in 1914 in Rome, Bo Bardi studied Architecture at the University of Rome, graduating in 1919. She subsequently moved to Milan, where she worked alongside architect Carlo Pagani. During this time, she also collaborated with architect-designer Gio Ponti on the magazine Lo Stile.
In 1942, Bo Bardi established her own architectural studio, but it was completely destroyed a year later by an air raid. In 1943, she co-founded the publication A Cultura della Vita with Bruno Zevi, and from 1944 until 1945, she was the editor of Ponti’s famous Domus magazine. Her role at Domus prompted her active involvement in the Italian Communist Party, through which she met her future husband, art critic and historian Pietro Maria Bardi. In these years, Bo Bardi also contributed to several other publications, including the daily newspaper Milano Sera directed by Elio Vittorini, as well as Stile, Grazia, Belleza, Tempo, Vetrina, and Illustrazione Italiana.
Bo Bardi moved to São Paulo in 1946 after her husband was invited to found a new art museum there. Together they established the influential arts and architecture magazine Habitat (1951–54). In 1948, Bo Bardi co-founded the Studio de Arte e Arquitetura Palma with Giancarlo Palanti (1906–77) and began to manufacture economical, modernist furniture for her own architectural commissions. Distinguished designs include the Bowl Chair (1951)—which combined Brazil's penchant for pronounced forms with European industrial minimalism—and the Cadeira Beira de Estrada or Roadside Chair (1967).
Bo Bardi’s architectural projects include the Glass House (1951) in Morumbi, Sao Paulo, which she designed as her private residence; the Instituto de Arte Contemporânea (IAC) at the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (1951–53); Solar do Unhão (1959), an old sugar mill that she converted to a craft museum in Bahia; the SESC Pompéia (1977–82), a leisure center built in an old factory; and the Teatro Oficina (1984), a burnt office building that Bo Bardi turned into a theater.
Bo Bardi passed away in 1992. She leaves behind a legacy of architecture that favored collaboration, engagement, and social progress and equality.