Nicholas Kilner


Osvaldo Borsani (1911-1985)

Founder of the Italian furniture manufacturer Tecno, Osvaldo Borsani’s rise to fame began at the V Triennale di Milano in 1933, with his successful presentation of the rationalist Casa Minima while still a student at the Milan Polytechnic. After graduating in 1937 he took up work in his father Gaetano Borsani’s workshop, the Arredamento Borsani in Varedo. Embracing rationalist principles and avant-garde art he led the company into noteworthy collaborations with a number of contemporary artists including Lucio Fontana, Adriano di Spilimbergo, Fausto Melotti, Aligi Sassu and Arnaldo Pomodoro. In 1953, with his twin brother Fulgenzio, he founded Tecno, a furniture company focused on engineering and innovative design solutions. Two of the company’s earliest designs remain amongst their most successful and iconic; the D70 sofa that folds open into a divan bed (1954) and the P40 adjustable lounge chair (1955), variants of both of which remain in production today. While initially the company only produced Osvaldo’s designs, Tecno would go on to produce the work of other designers including Vico Magistretti, Roberto Mango, Carlo de Carli, Gio Ponti, Mario Bellini, Robin Day and Eugenio Gerli. Early pieces by Tecno can be found in the permanent collections of the MoMA, New York, the V&A, London, the Pompidou Centre, Paris and the Neue Sammlung, Munich.