Door 11: Carlo Mollino

The scarcity of products, artworks, or pretty much anything increases the demand and therefore the price and often in the fields of art or design give an askew view on its originators. This is also the case for the Italian designer, architect and essayist Carlo Mollino. He is mainly remembered for his furniture design, which reach extreme heights in recent auctions, but that was by far not the only thing he was interested in.


Born in 1905 in Turin to an engineer father, Eugenio Mollino, he first studied engineering and art history and later architecture. First started in his father's office in 1931 and then after winning some competitions went on to work on his own.

His designs stood out, because he used biomorphic forms, often inspired by the female body, contrary to the predominant rationalism at that time. He is known for his chairs, lounges and low tables. His most famous architectural works are the destroyed Società Ippica Torinese, the Teatro Regio, the opera house in Turin or his own villa, Villa Mollino. Next to his practical work, he also wrote essays about architecture, photography and film.

Together with Mario Damonte and Enrico Nardi developed and designed the  race car the Damolnar, or as Mollino preffered to call it  Bisiluro, litterally Twin Torpedo in 1955. Not only designed the car, but also raced it, winning two years in a row the 750 cc category at the infamous 24h of Le Mans race.

Carlo Mollino in his Bisiluro. Photo © courtesy Museo Casa Mollino

But it is not only his professional life, that make him an interesting, it is also his spare time activities, in which he all excelled, that make him stand out. Next to being a race car driver, his love for speed was reflected in his love for skiing. He was an avid skier, developing and illustrating techniques to ski faster. After he inherited his father's wealth in 1954, he started to be interested in aviation, buying 7 planes.

Another facet, which was only discovered after his death, was his collection of erotic Polaroids, he had taken of women, mainly from the Turin nightlife. He photographed them in a studio in his villa, Villa Molino, where he also did the styling and set design, lending each picture his signature style.