Ignazio Gardella is widely recognized as one of the masters of 20th century Italian modern architecture.
After graduating in Civil Engineering from the Politecnico di Milano, he earned a Degree in Architecture from the IUAV in Venice, where he taught for several years as a full professor of Architecture.
Throughout his lengthy career, he designed important public buildings, as well as prestigious private residences, mainly for upper-class clients in Northern Italy, becoming one of its most significant post-war figures in modern Italian architectural culture.
Gardella was among the protagonists of the cultural debate of the post-war reconstruction period, along with a Milan-based group of architects who shared a common stance towards Modern architecture. At that time, he was one of the most significant interpreters of a new concept of architecture that ran counter to the then-dominant Italian and European currents shaped by the International Style.
In 1947, together with Luigi Caccia Dominioni and Corrado Corradi dell’Acqua, he founded Azucena, the first Italian manufacturer of mass-produced furniture and objects of design, acquiring a prominent role in shaping the taste of the Lombard haute bourgeoisie.
Some of Azucena’s pieces would later be reproduced by MisuraEmme, Gavina, Sante & Cole, and TATO. Even after leaving Azucena, he continued to design and produce furniture and objects of design.
In the 50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, his works were published extensively in national and international architectural and design journals, and in 1959 Giulio Carlo Argan curated the first monograph devoted to his career up to that point.
In 1969, some iconic furniture items he designed for Kartell together with Anna Castelli Ferrieri put him in the spotlight at the 9th edition of the Milan Furnishing Fair (Salone Internazionale del Mobile).
Throughout his career, he received several prestigious awards: President of the Republic’s Gold Medal (Medaglia d’Oro del Presidente della Repubblica ai benemeriti della Scuola, della Cultura e dell’Arte); Honorary citizen of Alessandria; Fiuggi Prize, Regina Isabella of Ischia Prize, Honorary Member of London RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architect), Honorary member of the Academy of Fine Art of Brera (Accademia delle Belle Arti di Brera), of the Academy of Saint Luke (Accademia di San Luca), and of the Lincean Academy (Accademia dei Lincei). In 1996, he was awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement (Leone d’Oro alla Carriera) at the Venice Biennale.
Even after his death, in 1999, Gardella’s cultural and artistic legacy lives on.
Since 2000, besides a growing number of publications and studies on his works, several exhibitions have been organized in Italy and abroad. Moreover, a significant number of his buildings have been declared to be of enduring historical interest and subject to protection by the Italian Cultural Heritage.
Thanks to their originality, functional design, formal elegance and top-quality execution, Gardella’s furniture and design objects, either customized or mass-produced, have attracted growing attention from important collectors and prestigious auction houses, which contributed to a sharp increase in the value of his pieces on both national and international markets, as testified by record auction sales.
The undoubted artistic and cultural value as well as the rarity of his original furniture and his objects of design are protected by copyright in order to prevent the spreading of unauthorized copies and of non-compliant reproductions of the original project.

Courtesy Archivio Storico Gardella and CSAC – Centro Studi e Archivio della Comunicazione dell’Università di Parma