Milanese architect Giulio Cappellini (b. 1954) earned his international renown through his decades-long stewardship of Cappellini—his eponymous, family-owned company that, since he took over in 1979, has grown into one of the international scene’s most progressive furniture manufacturing brands.
Recently honored in TIME as a virtuoso, generation-defining design trendsetter, Cappellini is hailed most saliently as an early prophet of and contributor to the globalization of contemporary design in late-20th century. His company’s eclectic portfolio includes furniture and assorted decorative objects designed by cutting-edge established and emerging design talent. Accordingly, Cappellini has spring-boarded the careers of an array of international designers like Jasper Morrison, Barber Osgerby, James Irvine, Christophe Pillet, Philippe Starck, Patrick Norguet, , Tom Dixon, Marcel Wanders, Nendo, and Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, among others.
Cappellini’s design sensibility skews toward the experimental and showy—quizzically-shaped and brightly-hued, , , , and more, often blending minimalist structures with avant-garde, pop, and postmodern surfaces. He has continually prioritized, across his tenure, work of diverse material and style. As such, Cappellini has produced some of the boldest, most iconic designs of the past century, including Shiro Kuramata's Pyramid Chest (originally designed in 1968 for Ishamaru, produced by Cappellini beginning in 1987), Tom Dixon’s Bird Chaise Longue (1991), Alessandro Mendini's Proust Geometrica armchair (originally designed in 1978, produced by Cappellini beginning in 1993), Marcel Wanders’s Knotted Chair (1996), and Dror Benshetrit’s Peacock Chair (2009)—all highly collectible pieces that now sit in the permanent holdings of such institutions as New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Paris’s Pompidou Center, and London’s Victoria & Albert Museum.
Today an agent of London-based Haworth, Inc., which acquired Capellini’s firm in 2014, Cappellini continues his globetrotting excavation of raw, untapped talent—most recently delving into the developing markets of India and China.