Skip to content

Osvaldo Borsani, born in 1911 in Varedo, Italy, was a prominent Italian designer and architect known for his significant contributions to the field. He hailed from a family of skilled furniture craftsmen, as his father owned the Atelier di Varedo, a furniture shop where young Osvaldo received his initial training. During his time at the atelier, Borsani had the opportunity to work alongside architect Gino Maggioni, who introduced him to the world of arts, crafts, and furniture making, influenced by the Jugendstil movement from Vienna.

Borsani pursued his education in Fine Arts at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan, graduating in 1931. He then continued his studies in architecture at the Politecnico di Milano, completing his degree in 1936.

In 1933, even before graduating as an architect, Borsani designed the Casa Minima project for the V Triennale di Milano (Milan Triennial) in collaboration with architects Cairoli and Varisco. This project, characterized by its Rationalist principles and geometries, earned him a silver medal and garnered positive reviews from critics, including Edoardo Persico of Casabella magazine.

In 1937, Borsani designed Villa Presenti in Forte dei Marmi, a coastal residence in Tuscany favored by the Italian aristocracy and industrial elite. This project displayed the same rigorous rationalistic approach as Casa Minima but incorporated Mediterranean colors and materials, adding a softer touch.

In 1943, Borsani conceived and built his own house, Villa Borsani, in Varedo. While rooted in strict Rationalist principles, the villa also embraced objects and artwork from younger artists, introducing a more gentle expression of human creativity. Notable artists involved in the project included Adriano Spilimbergo, Fausto Melotti, Lucio Fontana (who created the ceramic fireplace and ceramic Madonna), and Agenore Fabbri (who crafted the bronze statue in the staircase). Villa Borsani, along with most of its original furniture, has been well-preserved and remains in the possession of the Borsani family, along with extensive archives of Osvaldo Borsani's work.

Following Villa Borsani, Osvaldo continued to undertake various projects for the Milanese bourgeoisie, often collaborating with artists. His close friendship with artist Lucio Fontana, which began during their time at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera, resulted in numerous furniture designs by Borsani during the late 1930s and 1940s. Through this collaboration, Borsani incorporated sculptural ceramic and bronze elements, woodwork, gilded stucco, and interventions on glass tabletops, among other design elements, into his furniture creations.

Recognizing the need to transform furniture production from artisanal methods to a modern industry capable of meeting growing demand at more accessible prices, Osvaldo Borsani, together with his twin brother Fulgenzio, established the manufacturer Tecno in 1953. Tecno incorporated modern manufacturing techniques to deliver high-quality furniture to an international market. Initially, Tecno exclusively produced Borsani's furniture designs, but over time, they expanded to include furniture from other designers such as Vico Magistretti, Roberto Mango, Gae Aulenti, Eugenio Gerli, Carlo de Carli, and Gio Ponti.

Early furniture pieces from Tecno can be found in the permanent collections of prestigious institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Triennale di Milano Museum, the Neue Sammlung in Munich, and the finest art collections in the world.