Gaetano Pesce, 1939–2024

John Hill
4. april 2024
The facade of Gaetano Pesce's Organic Building (1989–1993) in Osaka, Japan (Photo: hiromitsu morimoto/Flickr)

The quoted words above come from the Instagram account of the studio of Gaetano Pesce, which announced his passing early today. It continued: 

“His originality and nerve are matched by none. Despite dealing with health related set backs, especially in the last year, Gaetano remained positive, playful and ever curious. He is survived by his children, family, and all who adored him. His uniqueness, creativity and special message live on through his art.”

Pesce was born in La Spezia, Italy, in 1939, and studied architecture at the University of Venice and design at the Venice Institute of Industrial Design. He was a participant in Gruppo N, a collective founded in Padua in 1959 that was concerned with programmed art patterned after the Bauhaus. Pesce taught at schools in France, Italy, Brazil, Hong Kong, and the United States, living in New York City from 1980 until his death.

Gaetano Pesce's proposal for the Church of Solitude (1974–1977) on display at MoMA during Emerging Ecologies: Architecture and the Rise of Environmentalism last year. (Photo: John Hill/World-Architects)

Although Pesce is known best for the design of chairs — some of them iconic and in museum collections, as in the Up5 Lounge Chair and the Feltri Chair — his architectural works are exceptionally diverse. Early projects, such as his contribution to Italy: The New Domestic Landscape at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in 1972 and his proposal for the Church of Solitude in New York, explored somewhat dystopic, underground realms, while later works, including the Organic Building in Osaka and his 2022 installation covering Shigeru Ban's Aspen Art Museum, were optimistic by comparison: colorful, playful, and able to elicit a smile, much like his furniture and other conceptual designs.

Gaetano Pesce, architectural model for My Dear Mountains at Aspen Art Museum, 2021. (Photo Isabella Norris © Gaetano Pesce, courtesy of Salon 94 Design)

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