Edie Cohen -- Interior Design, 12/1/2002 12:00:00 AM
Antonio Citterio is Milanese to the core. A native of Meda on the periphery of the city and a graduate of its politecnico, he has been immersed in Italy's heady architecture and design world from an early age. Having decided on his career at 13, he has risen to become one of the field's most vibrant luminaries. His projects span three continents. And who in the world is unfamiliar with his products—varied and numerous enough to constitute their own mini Salone Internazionale del Mobile?
True to the training of an Italian architect, Citterio does it all: buildings, interiors, furnishings, and industrial products. His career began in the latter sector in 1972. Since then, he has collaborated with powerhouses of the industry, Arclinea, B&B Italia, Flexform, Flos, Kartell, and Vitra among them. His Sity seating for B&B won the coveted Compasso d'Oro in 1987. His trolley Battista and container unit Mobil for Kartell are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Centre Pompidou, Paris. His Ad Hoc line for Vitra is virtually synonymous with versatility and popularity in the office systems category.
Citterio expanded his scope of activity to encompass architecture and interior design and, in 1987, formed a partnership with his Californian wife, architect Terry Dwan. For the next decade, Antonio Citterio and Terry Dwan Architects completed such prominent projects as a commercial and administrative complex in Seregno, Italy; Milan, Amsterdam, and Antwerp offices for Esprit; a production plant for Vitra in Neuenburg, Germany; the Massimo de Carlo gallery, Milan; and private residences in Europe and Japan. He reorganized the operation as Antonio Citterio and Partners in 1999.
Citterio has become a fixture in the fashion realm, where his interiors and furniture serve as settings for labels both elite and popular. For the ne plus ultra, there's the Valentino flagship in Milan and similarly rarefied boutiques for Cerruti in New York and Emanuel Ungaro in Paris. He redefined the broad appeal of Stefanel with a pilot shop in Milan. His fashion and jewelry feats also encompass showrooms for Alberto Aspessi and Cerruti in Milan, a Fausto Santini boutique in Düsseldorf, Germany, and a De Beers location in London.
In a remarkable show of longevity, Citterio's collaborations with manufacturers have spanned decades. For B&B, he designs not only products but also showrooms worldwide. These include the London former Porsche dealership that he and kindred spirit John Pawson transformed into the bi-level B&B Italia environment published as "In the Fast Lane" (May, page 284).
The year 2000 unveiled two significant events. First, Antonio Citterio and Partners moved into its own renovated building on Via Cerva in central Milan. Second, the 35-person firm opened an office in Hamburg, Germany, to handle commissions following the completion of a 70,000-square-foot Edel Music headquarters there.
Citterio's diverse oeuvre speaks, nonetheless, in a consistent language. "I do simple architecture because I've always done it—I can't change now," says the architect, who cites the Italian rationalists, Charles and Ray Eames, Louis Kahn, and Tadao Ando as influences. Citterio's remaining wish? To design a museum and a church.
Outside of the office, the architect is dedicated to his wife and his two children. His taste in music is broad, from Italian pop and rock to classical. In literature, he favors adventure and travel and is currently reading Bruce Chatwin. Just last year, he polished off Hemingway.