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Thinking Objects: a Radical Approach to Contemporary Design

Italian architect Franco Raggi will discuss with Francesca Molteni about the influences of the Italian Radical Design movement on modern design, with a focus on the Design of the 70s and 80s.

The Italian Radical Design movement began in the 1960s in response to the tumultuous political and social climate: Young designers rejected aesthetic norms and, in the process, created unique art and architecture. On the surface, the movement’s playful and symbolic imagery simply referenced pop culture but these works subversively took aim at the establishment. The Radicals introduced striking and bold colours; Instead of the integrity of material properties, they embraced ornamentation and decoration.

As Franco Raggi wrote (in his “Radical Story” – Casaballa, 1973), the radical movement tried to “overcome the disciplinary discourse of design, namely the reconstruction of the contradictions at the formal level, destroying… the normal image of the product.” The function of the Radicals’ works was to subvert the way you thought about the object. These pieces were meant to “stand out” for their bizarrity and to be looked at and enjoyed. The Radical designs, with their irony and distorted scale deeply influenced the imaginary of every-day-use-objects, but also magazines, books, exhibitions, schools and much more!

Seductive, captivating and utterly surreal, the Radical Italian movement despite its brevity still continues to be a major source of inspiration.


Wednesday, February 28 – 7:30pm – 8:30pm

Design Exchange | 234 Bay St., Toronto| Free admission |

Presented by Design Exchange in collaboration with Istituto Italiano di Cultura; Consulate General of Italy, Muse; R & Company, NYC.


Franco Raggi

Franco Raggi (born 1945) is an architect. He teaches Interior Design at ISIA in Florence. Between 1970 and 1975 he wrote for the architecture and interior design journals Casabella and Modo, before becoming their editor between 1981 and 1983. He has contributed to the Venice Biennale and the Milan Triennale by organizing architecture and design exhibitions. Between 1970 and 1980, Raggi took part in the Radical Design movement: In 1973, he orchestrated the first critical exhibition of Italian Radical Design on behalf of the IDZ, Internationales Design Zentrum, in Berlin. In 1980 he began designing for a number of leading Italian companies including Fontana Arte, Cappellini, Kartell, and Poltronova. He designed, among other things, the Milan corporate headquarters of Gianfranco Ferré. He collaborated in the design of the building and the interior of the Humanitas hospital. He is currently image coordinator for Barovier&Toso of Murano, a blown-glass maker. His graphic and design work is displayed in museums and private collectios. Together with some of his architect and designer friends, he contributes to FLARE magazine


Francesca Molteni

After graduating in Theoretical Philosophy from the University of Milan, Francesca Molteni took a postgraduate course in Film Production at New York University. She curated the concept design and directed television formats and documentaries for the RAI network and collaborated with publisher Edizioni Olivares. From 2002 to 2009, she produced historical documentaries, television formats and institutional videoswith 3D Produzioni Video.

In 2009 she set upthe MUSE Factory of Projects.

She has taught at IULM University, Milan, at the University of Palermo and, at Naba, the New Academy of Fine Arts in Milan. Since 2012 she has contributed to the Sunday edition of IlSole24Ore as the author of “Oggetti d’impresa [Objects of Business]”. In 2014 she received the PIDA DesignPrize for the “Dove vivono gli architetti”exhibition, curated withDavide Pizzigoni for the MilanSalone del Mobile 2014.

  • Organized by: Istituto Italiano di Cultura
  • In collaboration with: Consulate General of Italy, Muse, Design Exchange, R & Company, NYC.