20 May 2014
A wooden stepladder becomes the framework of a bookcase. Its rungs are the supports for shelves that, once fixed and reinforced by two more uprights, stabilize the structure. That’s all? Yes. After all, Vico Magistretti is famous for a statement summing up his approach to design: “I like to design concepts, the kind that are so clear that you don’t even need to put them down on paper. I have communicated many of my designs over the telephone.” Nuvola Rossa is one of those designs “communicated over the telephone”: cleaner and better-finished in its details than a homemade object, but equally intuitive in the method of its construction (it utilizes readymade components, a stepladder and six wooden planks). Manufactured by Cassina since 1977, Vico’s bookcase was an instant bestseller, and its success can be measured not just in terms of sales but also in the number of attempts at do-it-yourself duplication. But the immortality of the original stems precisely from the contrast: a simple concept combined with a complex finishing, worthy of the finest joinery.