Tips Clear house. Carimate by Vico Magistretti

The celebrations for the centenary of Vico Magistretti (1920-2006) are, if ever needed, proposing one of the most interesting figures of the architectural project of the past century. For those who know little about it and who at most know how to cite the Eclisse light by Artemide or the Maralunga sofa by Cassina, we recommend reading the portrait that Francesca Molteni has outlined on Casa Tips Clear in June collecting a series of affectionate contributions and timely memories. Architect by vocation, training and results and, only later, designer, Magistretti has signed a wide range of buildings which are typologically different, but in which his design figure is always well hidden. They are palaces, churches, apartments, deposits, holiday homes … A visit to the website of the Vico Magistretti Foundation and to its comprehensive digital archive ( allows both an overview of the ideas, shapes and clear, light solutions of the architect, is a constant update on the celebrations. The article that we propose and that in Italian would titled “countryside and golf clubs” traces the events of a construction that still, even more so since in the meantime the surrounding trees have grown, is a successful example of how, if well conceived, the static human gesture – architecture – coexists in full harmony with ever-changing nature. And then Magistretti was a skilled golfer, perhaps this too would have affected the success of the project? The article also mentions a famous seat, precisely the Carimate, which the architect designed specifically for the restaurant. Long produced by Cassina, today it is out of production. But the hope that some companies will re-edit it is always there. It would be a shame not to see her again in her bright red lacquer.
(Paolo Lavezzari)

Country & Clubs

photos by Andrea Passuello

Carimate’s project consecrates Vico Magistretti as master of the new Italian design of the twentieth century

Almost ten years after his disappearance, Vico Magistretti (1920-2006) remains one of the most authoritative references in the sphere of the modern project of the late twentieth century. His aesthetic and formal legacy, his lesson did not go away. Indeed, the legacy of the Milanese designer in architecture and design in this time it has become stronger, thanks also to the activity of the Foundation dedicated to him, enucleating itself with ever greater evidence as an admirable synthesis of the rationalist experience. Few like him have known how to master, from the minor to the major scale, compositional elegance and sophisticated functionality: wherever you go to fish it out, between the pages of books and magazines with images and comments on your works, or directly in contact with its architecture, its furniture, its lamps, the touch of Magistretti emerges impeccable, with an aristocratic clarity higher than the pitfalls of fashions and varying tastes. No wonder.

For family history, training and culture, he summarizes the founding characteristics of Milanese journey through the 20th century, deeply rooted in the myth of Modern movement, as much as capable of interpreting the dogmas of that religion by itself, often rather sweetening them with unexpected flashes and personal inventions. As an additional and winning card to play, Magistretti also had an innate, fascinating “Britishness“-” If as soon as you have vulgarity inside you, it comes out to you, and you cannot hide it “, he said, immune from this risk – that it was a form of self-control and at the same time behavior and method, the trace along which it unfolded in the time throughout his career. With these premises, the visit to Carimate in Brianza – about thirty kilometers from Milan – where Magistretti realizes with Guido Veneziani, in 1961, one of his best known works, the Club House of the golf club, it assumes from the beginning the traits, well known to those who practice it, of the architectural pilgrimage. This happens when the work is still able to witness a sort of original creative energy, it spirit of an era.

© Studio Magistretti Archive Vico Magistretti Foundation

In short, as you go to see Le Corbusier in Marseille or Mies van der Rohe in Brno, here, precisely, go to Carimate it is charged with a richer and more complex meaning than the simple inspection of a valuable building. Here different stories and trajectories intersect, so much so that this building, as it was designed and furnished, for the green that acted as a driving force for the building development of the area (attracting, among other things, the Milanese design milieu of the time) is truly a paradigmatic case. To frame the whole story, it would be necessary to examine a multiplicity of details, both planning and sociological and custom. A few are enough. In the course of Magistretti, meanwhile, Carimate is the work that definitively consecrates him as an architect and launches him as the protagonist of the new Italian project. Yeah, because this job is actually for him a double turning point, with the architecture on one side and, on the other, she, “la” Carimate, the chair stuffed with armrests, painted in a bright aniline red, designed for the internal restaurant and almost immediately (in 1963) put in production from Cassina.

© Studio Magistretti Archive Vico Magistretti Foundation

A simple simple chair, apparently devoid of excessive stylistic pretensions – “Inspired by church chairs, and translated modernly without betraying the attachment to tradition”, he recalls Italo Lupi – but that rises precisely for this at the speed of light in the empyrean of Italian design icons, on an equal footing and with reasons similar to Superleggera of Gio Ponti. Browse any furniture magazine around the mid-sixties: Carimate is everywhere, as well as being the start of a lasting and fruitful collaboration between Magistretti and Cassina. Another key point concerns the idea of ​​using a golf course to promote a comprehensive plan of interventions residential of value in this Briant area. It is a program that is supported by the General Real Estate Company, responsible for a coeval and similar plan in Rome (Olgiata) and, shortly before, for the construction of the Velasca dei BBPR tower in Milan, and of which the Club House is the first piece. buildable. They are the years of economic boom and, within certain high and middle bourgeois areas, the desire for ways representative of one’s status is capable of being accentuated celebrate without ostentationalong the Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon lines, the new entrepreneurial and dynastic fortunes.

© Studio Magistretti Archive Vico Magistretti Foundation

Within this vision, some extra-urban architectural and urbanistic tests are developed which attempt to provide, with the contribution of valid Italian designers, aalternative to the disorderly and violent mutation of the natural landscape, consequent to the spread of the holiday and mass leisure. Arenzano in Liguria, Punta Ala in Tuscany, Corte di Cadore near Cortina are among the examples of new tourist areas in which the talent of the individual authors (Gardella, Zanuso, Albini, Caccia Dominioni, Gellner and others), or an illuminated client, such as the Eni village in Cortina, allow you to achieve such a high quality however, for various reasons it cannot be replicated on a large scale. In Carimate is the very idea of ​​the golf course, with its shaved lawns, stretched on a hill behind an ancient castle, in visually oppose the incipient building chaos of those years and thus proposing itself as idyllic oasis of peace. The message works and many come, who just to play – a story in the story, as the director Giuseppe Nava could tell today -, who also to live. The appeal spreads in particular in the circle of design that counts and produces. The names that can be crossed at these latitudes are different, from Cesare Cassina, which questions Carlo Scarpa before turning to Magistretti himself for his villa built there in 1965, to Piero Ambrogio Busnelli (who founded C&B with Cassina in 1966), Carlo Giorgetti, Rodrigo Rodriquez.

© Studio Magistretti Archive Vico Magistretti Foundation

Silvia Latis, historical signature alongside Lupi of “Abitare”, recalls the “civil Anglo-Saxon spirit” of that varied Brianza-Milanese community, known to her following the parents’ decision to reach Carimate on the principle of the Sixties. Various interventions have been added over time to the architectural sample of the area – villas of Afra and Tobia Scarpa, Luigi Vietti and many others -, but it was Magistretti and Venetians who find the right key to enter the natural setting of the hill of Carimate without distorting itrather enhancing its original characteristics. There Club House, equipped with an adjacent swimming pool, is in fact designed starting from a series of continuous, delicate visual adjustments, compositional methodology in which Magistretti was a master, in which everything starts from the search for maximum agreement with the surrounding greenery. It is, in short, the golf course that explains to the building how to behave and this adapts, developing harmoniously with a series of progressive and calibrated rises that make it grow and rise from the entrance level to the top. In the orchestration of the internal spaces, kept in line until they logically expand at the edges of the external facades, one catches the richness of a design measure that bypasses a certain rationalist way to rediscover the most ancient and meditated preciousness, those of Loos or Hoffmann in the early twentieth century Viennese. Beautiful details everywhere, from the fixtures colored in two shades of red to certain geometric or curved cuts of the internal walls, up to the bush-hammered top of the parapets and to the fixed and mobile furnishings. “A work that has held up its first fifty years magnificently,” says Carlo Giorgetti with conviction, “a place where the spirit of Vico is still very present”.


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