The exuberantly versatile and flamboyantly prolific Italian artist Carlo Mollino - designer, architect, rally driver, stunt flier, photographer, fashion designer, stage designer, and man of letters - was born in Turin in 1905. Carlo Mollino studied mechanical engineering and art history, followed by architecture at Turin University before working in the architectural practice of his father, Eugenio Mollino. In 1933 Carlo Mollino submitted a design to a competition for the Agricultural Federation headquarters in Cuneo and won first prize for it.
In 1937 Carlo Mollino built the Società Ippica (the Turin Equestrian Association) headquarters. Carlo Mollino also did a great deal of interior decoration in both private houes and public buildings. Carlo Mollino's designs have nothingin common with those by his contemporaries in Milan and the rationalism that reigned supreme there. Carlo Mollino's furniture is often distinguished by biomorphic forms; his highly expressive take on design was influenced by both Futurism and Surrealism. A typical feature of chairs designed by Carlo Mollino is a split back.
In 1940 Carlo Mollino designed a chair of this kind for Lisa and Gio Ponti with a polished brass frame; both the back and the seat are split down the middle and covered in white elastic resin. In 1951 Carlo Mollino designed the interior and seating of the RAI auditorium in Turin, for which he created a voluminous armchair with a low-slung seat. This interior is regarded as one of Carlo Mollino's best works.
Carlo Mollino developed and patented a process for cold molding plywood. In 1952 Carlo Mollino designed an armchair for the Casa del Sole in Cervinia, with legs and armrests made of continuous wood battens that have been bent in several places. In 1953 Carlo Mollino came up with a marvellous chair made entirely of molded wood for Casa Catlaneo in Agra.
Carlo Mollino's furniture was often one-off or produced in very limited editions by Apelli & Varesio of Turin. A table designed by Carlo Mollino in 1949 was sold at auction by Christie's in 2005 for a staggering $3.8 million.