Italian Design Icon Gaetano Pesce Dies Age 84

Italian designer Gaetano Pesce has died. The news was confirmed in a statement released by his studio on Instagram this morning, which read:

“It is with a heavy heart we announce the passing of visionary creator Gaetano Pesce.⁠Over the course of six decades, Gaetano revolutionized the worlds of art, design, architecture, and the liminal spaces between these categories. His originality and nerve are matched by none.⁠

Despite dealing with health-related setbacks, especially in the last year, Gaetano remained positive, playful, and ever-curious. He is survived by his children, family, and all who adored him. His uniqueness, creativity, and special message live on through his art.”⁠

Pesce was born in La Spezia, Italy in 1939. He embarked on his varied creative journey with a degree in architecture at the University of Venice, and eventually built a reputation for being a creative polymath known for his experimental use of color, shape, and material, be it across a furniture design or a residential building. ⁠

Pesce then spent the years between 1958 and 1963 partic­i­pating in the design collective “Gruppo N.” He quickly became aligned with the Radical Design movement, joining a generation of Italian architects revolting against the functionalist nature of 20th-century Modernism – made commonplace during a period of social and economical instability across the country.

In recent years, his work has had somewhat of a moment across a much wider audience, despite some of his most famous pieces being made decades earlier. 2022 in particular became a bumper year for the designer – from new collaborations with Cassina to creating the set and furniture for Bottega Veneta’s Spring/Summer 2023 show.

“My career is not monolithic but is fragmentary,” Pesce said of his multidisciplinary nature, in an interview with Hypebeast last year.

Pesce will be remembered for having an unapologetically playful approach to design, born out of an eternally youthful outlook. At this year’s Milan Design Week, taking place from April 15, he was expected to launch two major projects: an exhibition titled “Nice to See You” at the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, and an installation in collaboration with the City of Milan at the Piazza San Pio XI. Both will continue as planned, and will no doubt be joined by tributes from brands and designers across the city.

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