Paolo Piva

Venice & Vienna

Born in Adria near Venice in 1950, Paolo Piva is one of the most prominent Italian architect-designers of the late 20th century. Over the course of his career, he has created seating, casegoods, kitchens, and more for major European design brands while making a significant contribution to the field of architecture in Venice and Vienna.  

Piva studied architecture and visual arts at the IUAV (Istituto Universitario di Architettura di Venezia) under Carlo Scarpa. His thesis, Social Housing in Vienna from 1918 to 1934, is the first indication of Piva’s interest in the Austrian capital, a fascination that continued throughout his life. In 1975, Piva worked for Venice's Institute of History & Architecture (Istituto di storia e architettura di Venetia), assisting in the curation of an important exhibition on the same subject as his thesis, architecture in Vienna during the socialist period, in collaboration with the Viennese Academy of Applied Arts (Akademie Der Angewandten Kunst). This exhibition lead to Red Vienna, a similar exhibition in Rome in 1980.

From the 1970s onward, Piva collaborated with various manufacturers, including B&B Italia, Burelli Cucine, Dada, de Sede, Fama, Giovannetti, Lumenform, Mobel Italia, Poliform, Team 7, Thonet, and Wittmann. His most collectible design is the Alanda Table for B&B Italia, a minimal, geometric coffee table featuring a glass surface over inverted, metal pyramids. Produced in small numbers, the elegant Alanda has been the subject of many copies and reproductions; the unmarked models are notoriously difficult to authenticate. The leather Arca Sofa for B&B Italia (1985) and the Aura Chair for Wittmann (1983)—recipient of the Upholstered Furniture Design Award in 1993—are among his most famous seating collections. Recent designs include the Athos Table (2012), Andy Sofa (2013), and Area Table (2013) in production by B&B Italia.

Paolo Piva’s architectural and interior design portfolio includes the Kuwait Embassy in Qatar (1980), the renovation of Palazzo Remer in Venice (1986), and the design of several retail outlets and offices. Piva maintained an office in both Venice and Vienna and held a professorship in Design at the Hochschule für Angewandte Kunst in Vienna since 1988. He passed away in 2017.