Ico & Luisa Parisi

Como, Italy

Italian Husband-and-wife team Ico and Luisa Parisi designed together and alongside each other in their studio La Ruota in Como, Italy. With a look that epitomized the modern Italian style of the 1950s, the pair created many classic pieces of design together, the most famous perhaps being the Model 813 Uovo (Egg) Chair for Cassina (1951).

Born in 1916 in Palermo, architect-designer Domenico “Ico” Parisi trained in building construction in Como between 1931 and 1935. The following year, he worked in rationalist architect Giuseppe Terragni’s office in Como, which marked the beginning of his professional career—which briefly turned to filmmaking in the late 1930s. Returning to his original vocation in design, Ico was a founding member of both the Alta Quota and Gruppo Como architecture groups.

In 1947, he married fellow designer Luisa Aiani, the talented former protegée of Gio Ponti. Also a member of Alta Quota, the pair founded their studio La Ruota in Como, in April 1948. Between 1949 and 1952, Parisi studied architecture under Alberto Sartoris at the Institute Atheneum in Lausanne, Switzerland. In 1952, he became a member of the Art Club of Milan. In 1956, he became a member of the Associazione per il Disegno Industriale (ADI).

Parisi designed numerous interiors, furniture (primarily in wood and metal), glass, jewelry, and architecture projects, both independently and with Luisa. Their studio was a meeting place for collaborations between established artists and designers of the day. Clients included Singer & Sons, Altamira , M.I.M. , Longhi , and Cassina. Ico, in collaboration with architects Silvio Longhi and Luigi Antonietti, designed the Living Room Pavilion (Padiglione per il Soggiorno) for the tenth Triennale di Milano. Resembling the form of a circus tent, the reinforced concrete and glass walls formed a spiral shaped living room. Parisi and his team dedicated the space to a large communal lounge with library and bar.

Featured in the prestigious Domus magazine, the Parisis were celebrated for their organic designs and interiors. The Parisis’ friend Gio Ponti famously wrote to Ico Parisi to say: “My dear, your egg chair is a marvel. You are a master, and all that is left for me is to retire and live in Civate [near Como] in oblivion.” The duo’s collaboration with Cassina was a fruitful one, resulting many other famous designs including the Model 691 Chair (1955) and the Model 839, which were both short-listed for the Compasso d’Oro award in 1955.

Luisa Parisi passed away in 1990; Ico six years later in Como.