Francesco Binfarè


Milano / Italy

Francesco Binfaré was born in Milan in 1939. He spent the war years with his family in a village in Valtellina, a place that encouraged him to contemplate and observe nature. Thanks to his father, he learned to draw and paint during that period. In 1960, at the age of twenty-one, he met the Cassina brothers, founders of the design and furniture company in Meda bearing their name. This encounter enabled him to come into contact with industrial production. Drawing thus became an instrument of disciplinary enquiry into the archetypes of design and architecture. The cycle of graphic works produced between 1967 and 1980 (including Il Gigante e l'ombra or La colpa e l'architettura), prefiguried the central themes of post-modernism.

Binfaré jokingly declared that Cesare Cassina commissioned him to become "the architect of his architects". Indeed, a characteristic of his role at Cassina was to have worked alongside the creators of innovative objects that would become successful icons of Italian design without aspiring to his personal prominence. His dynamic and creative spirit led him to direct the Cesare Cassina Centre, a design workshop to which he transferred his processes of artistic practice. There he investigated new methods, facilitating individual and collective design. This context gave light to Vico Magistretti's Maralunga, Gaetano Pesce's Up 5 and Sit Down, Mario Bellini's Bambole and Archizoom's AeO. During this period, he coordinated projects for the historic MoMA exhibition "Italy: New Domestic Landscape" (1972) and carried out research trips to India, the United States and Japan (1970-1973).
In parallel to his collaboration with Cassina, he promoted personal initiatives. In 1973, he founded "Braccio di Ferro" with Gaetano Pesce and Alessandro Mendini for the limited-series production of avant-garde objects. Investigating the infinite possibilities of new media in design, in 1974, he created Environmedia with Mario Bellini and Pierpaolo Saporito. In 1980, he founded Design and Communication Centre to promote such projects as Cab by Mario Bellini, Wink by Toshiyuki Kita, and Sunset in New York by Gaetano Pesce.

In 1992, Massimo Morozzi - an architect and designer among the founders of Archizoom - invited Binfaré to join Edra's design team. This collaboration marked the beginning of a new phase in his career. For the Tuscan company, he designed L'Homme et la Femme (1993), Tangeri (1994); Angels (1996); On the Rocks (2004); Flap (2006); Sfatto and Tronco (2011); Absolu (2015); Essential (2016); and Standard (2012). This last piece is an iconic sofa that is always different because of the various ways people experience and sit on this enveloping and comfortable object. Francesco Binfaré's works are in international museums and collections like MoMA in New York. The Casa Italia residences for Italian athletes participating in the Rio 2016, PeyonChang 2018 and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games included some of his furnishing items. His long career was consecrated in 2022 with a Compasso d'Oro ADI Career Award. ... More ... less
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