Luigi Colani

People in Design II – The Death of Luigi Colani 

No matter whether it’s a car, a ship or an aircraft – it should be organic, biomorphic and aerodynamic. These ideas put Luigi Colani far ahead of his time, and made him friends in the German engineering community and beyond. In the 1970s and 1980s he was considered Germany’s leading designer, and he had already extended his portfolio to include furniture and everyday objects. His clients included the furniture chain Asko, as well as the companies Cor, Fritz Hansen, Burkhard Lübke, Poggenpohl and Sulo. Born in 1928 to a Swiss father and Polish mother, Lutz Colanis, as he was then known, initially went to the Academy of Fine Arts to study sculpture and painting. However, he soon broke off his art studies and went instead to the École polytechnique in Paris to learn about aerodynamics and ultralight construction. After graduating, he went on to work in the field of materials research for the California aircraft manufacturer Douglas Aircraft Company. In 1954 he began designing plastic bodies for Simca, Erdmann & Rossi, and eventually for Fiat/Rometsch, Alfa Romeo and Lancia. His success was proof of his abilities, and in the 1970s Colani went on to found his own design firm at Schloss Harkotten in Westphalia. In the 1980s Colani went to Asia, where he worked with Canon, Sony and Mazda in Japan. From the 1990s on, he devided his life between Germany and China. Even as recently as 2018 he was still working in China on two types of caravan and an electric car. On 16 September Luigi Colani died in Karlsruhe, after a short but serious illness.

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