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Glimpse Inside the Electric, Erotic Furniture Design of 1968

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1968: Italian Radical Design is a brick-thick furniture tome of fat cardboard pages; crack it open and the photos (there are almost no words) are so vivid, its colors so juicy, it would almost be mistaken for an overlarge children's book. That is, if it weren't for that page of a naked woman in the fetal position in the middle of a leopard-print sofa—or, for that matter, the terrified couple covered in head-to-toe in sliced cucumbers. The book, a collaborative effort between photographers Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari, who together founded the inconceivably hip artists' magazine Toiletpaper, and Greek collector Dakis Joannou, offers a lucid amble through Joannou's assemblage of furniture, each piece designed in the riotous late '60s or early '70s.

Influenced by vintage Playboy ("a statement in itself and the symbol of a generation unchained from sanctimonious values," as the book's introduction reads) 1968 makes liberal use of life's "props," including wigs, bondage tools, giant piles of spaghetti, "asses," eggs, and, somewhat problematically included in this list, "naked women." It all heightens the effect of pieces like netted stone chairs (above) and shag rugs, transforming (by way of arbitrary chickens and popsicle colors) objects into scenes that are erotic and impish—rehashing themes of liberation and humanism from a year when, as Joannou recalls, "utopia was born and died."

It should also be mentioned that the book also includes a few "Rules of the Radical Designer." Here's what the period was all about:

"An elaboration on the methods of kitsch, on the paradoxes connected to bad taste, on self-directed iron, on plastic and other inappropriate materials" and "a pre-ecological vision of society—a nostalgia for other worlds" and "a radical hypothesis for a communist world." But enough talk, onto the photos themselves:

Safari (1968) by Archizoom Associati

Elledue (1969/70) by Ettore Sottsass

Half & Half (1968) by Christian Germanaz

Dondolo (1967) by Cesare Leonardi and Franca Stagi

Boomerang (1969) by Maurice Calka

Argine (1974) by Studio Libidarch

Quaderna (1971) by Superstudio

Libro (1970) by Gianni Pareschi and Umberto Orsoni for G14

ABCD (1968) by Pierre Paulin, Pranzo Aromatico (1970) by Ettore Sottsass, and Malatesta (1970) by Ettore Sottsass

↑ Photo untitled

Pastil (1967) by Eero Aarnio, Cactus (1972) by Franco Mello and Guido Drocco, Girolle (1969) by Jean-Pierre Laporte, Alvar (1967) by Giuseppe Raimondi, Garden Egg (1968) by Peter Ghyczy, and Jumbo (1969) by Alberto Rosselli

· 1968: Italian Radical Design [Toilet Paper]
· All On the Books posts [Curbed National]
· All 1960s posts [Curbed National]