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Apr 10, 2024

How Gaetano Pesce’s design legacy resonates with Gen Z

“The Complete Incoherence,” “The Noise of Time,” and “The Future is Perhaps Past” stand as just a few of Gaetano Pesce’s profound legacies and influential book titles.

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Renowned as an artist, designer, architect, and “theorist of incoherence,” Pesce’s multidimensional talents encompassed trendsetting, visionary foresight, humanistic values, and scientific inquiry.  

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From his beginnings at IU in Venice to his illustrious studio in New York, where he recently departed, Gaetano Pesce’s vibrant and playful body of work continues to captivate Gen Z, transforming furniture into a unique perspective.


A Pioneer of Blurred Boundaries

Gaetano Pesce is a unique figure in the design world, with work featured in over 30 permanent collections in major museums worldwide.

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Emerging from the Italian Radical Design movement of the 1960s, Gaetano Pesce drew inspiration from contemporary youth culture and the personality-driven ethos of the art world. Most notably, Pesce pioneered the fusion of design and art, blurring the traditional boundaries between the two.


Social Commentary Through Design

Gaetano Pesce’s work had a deep-rooted objective of providing commentary on the present state of society. Social critique was a pivotal aspect of his design philosophy, with him once stating, “I am not a designer; I am an investigator. I investigate materials, the relationship between people and things, and the way we can change things.” 

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His first, and perhaps most iconic, furniture series, “Up,” for B&B Italia, featured a reclining chair called “La Mamma.” The chair’s large curves, inspired by the Venus of Willendorf, featured an ottoman resembling a ball and chain, symbolising society’s subjugation to the patriarchy. “It’s an image of a prisoner,” Gaetano Pesce explained. “Women suffer because of the prejudice of men. The chair was created to address this problem.”


Continued Relevance and Evolution

The chair remains relevant today, not only as an iconic piece of furniture but also as an ever-evolving political message. 

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In 2019, Gaetano Pesce displayed an 8-metre-high installation of the La Mamma chair in Piazza Duomo in Milan during Design Week, when hundreds of people flock to explore the city. The chair was adorned with 400 arrows, highlighting the issue of violence against women.


Furniture with a Point of View and Design as Art 

Gaetano Pesce stated multiple times that this particular chair made him realise he could bring a point of view to a piece of furniture and turn design into art. From then on, he carried a philosophy that was ahead of its time.


Embracing Resin and Imperfection

Gaetano Pesce’s work has always sought to bring innovation, study and analyse current political issues while creating functional household objects. 

His “Nobody’s Perfect” series exemplifies this ethos. Each resin chair in the collection was individually cast in moulds by hand without uniform colours or dimensions, resulting in each chair being unique and imperfect, depending on the worker who made it. Gaetano Pesce’s Nobody’s Perfect collection acknowledged “the impossibility of truly perfect design.”

Gaetano Pesce once described his series as “a symbol of human beings, documents of the workers that built them.” Each chair was even accompanied by its own birth certificate, signed by the worker who cast it. According to Pesce, “When you do something that originates from your creativity, it’s something that comes from within yourself. It’s a very intimate act or expression. When the chair came out and was finished in the factory, it was like that. It was very similar to the birth of a child: it’s unique.”



Constanza Coscia
Editor and alumna, Milan