Carlo De Carli was a “global” architect, like all those whose reach extends beyond the confines of their own professional practices, carrying on university-level educational activities thus maintaining contact with its attendant framework for elaborating ideas about theory, methodology, historical criticism and design in order to promote architecture down to the very core of its construction and usability. In DeCarli’s case, he achieved this mainly through cultural channels, both professional and scholastic as well as from the world of production, and users: ranging from the Triennial, with whom he collaborated from 1940 until 1973, (from 1957 to 1960 he headed “Il
Mobile italiano” (Italian Furniture), while between 1967 and 1971 he was the director of “Interni”), to the many initiatives he undertook in the name of renewing the field of furniture production. Professor of Interior Design, Furniture Design, and Decoration and director of its Institute from 1965 to 1968, he was dean of the School of Architecture where he taught until 1986. De Carli’s entire career unfolded through a series of recurring theoretical principles, such as: the continuity between architecture and nature; the unity of architecture; and primary space.
From his earliest writings, Carlo De Carli’s thoughts about design tended to relate his works of architecture and industrial products in a single, overarching creative design of the cosmos. The artificial forms of speed and fast animals — whose lean, taught bodies touch the ground ever so slightly — give his furniture a sense of poetic depth. Cases in point are the two chairs produced by Cassina in ’54 and in ’59, respectively mod. 683 (winner of the Compasso d’Oro) and mod. 693.
His architecture rejects the rationalist, “drawer-like” system of volumetric composition, sliding them in and out along an orthogonal grid. Maintaining contact with the ground, spaces are manoeuvred by shifting them and introducing inclined surfaces allowing continuous spaces to be developed, not only functionally but also visually: “houses are not simply objects placed on the ground, but everything around it is the continuation” (1944). This idea is the basis of two buildings built around 1950: the Casa Galli in Cirimido (Como) and the Guest mines Monteponi (Cagliari). The idea of the continuity of pure shapes and essential, for which every element is well defined in itself living, rhythmic, structurally necessary and in harmony with others, concerns not only the relationship with nature (the big sycamore tree embraced by the polygonal outline of the house in Via dei Giardini 16, 1953; the “furrows in the land,” of the proposed extension to the Cemetery of Chiari, 1973), but also with the forms of other eras, that is, with history, without any need for historicist revivalism.
The vital core that generates living space naturally results in a “singular unit” of architecture conceived “like a tree in a physical forest”, complete and able to be placed alongside other units. From the houses in the “La Caletta” holiday village with their small gardens (Nuoro, 1951). In addition to living spaces and structural components, the idea of units also involved furniture, both in its entirety and as spatial modules, designed in a variety of sizes for various functions, located within selfstanding, independent structures.
His writings, which have demonstrated the groundlessness of any separation between outside and inside, between large and small, do not call to attention space or objects as such, but rather a “process of formation” of space and objects, and their mutual relationship, in which many factors come into play, with interests in conflict, requiring a solution able to both solve and transcends them.

Excerpt from the text by Gianni Ottolini published on
Courtesy Ordine e Fondazione degli Architetti, Pianificatori, Paesaggisti e Conservatori della Provincia di Milano