Gae Aulenti between design and the city


Like it or not, I have to admit, almost all the people that now have made the history of design, are men. As a matter of chance or as a matter of women’s emancipation that characterized the historical moment, women have been in the design scene for a very small period of time.


But then we have her, a prominent personality, a woman who, among all, has managed to carve out a place of honor in that kind of context. I’m obviously talking about Gae Aulenti!

(©photo: historical archives)

Gae Aulenti was born in Palazzolo della Stella in the province of Udine in 1927 and died in Milan in 2012.

She was an architect, a designer, and a production designer in the national and international scene, and has given us some of the most popular products of all time, both in Italy and abroad.

She had trained professionally in Milan in the 50’s and graduated from the Polytechnic (in 1953 to be precise) and later she taught, first at the Faculty of Architecture in Venice and then, back to the basics, at the Polytechnic.


Gae Aulenti had a particularly poetry, that followed throughout she design activities.


For her it was essential to have an object, architecture, or at least a project, always in relation to the city, which representations human history.

In fact, she said:

(©photo: historical archives)

Any man's object, monument or den, cannot evade its relationship with the city, a place of representation of the human condition, and his analysis is only possible if you can define the object in the discontinuous form if you can demonstrate how it will find its place and its law of appearance

(©photo: historical archives)

My favorite piece by Gae Aulenti is undoubtedly the “Pipistrello (Bat)” lamp, which is perhaps best known.

the Pipistrello lamp, 1965, for Martinelli Luce (©photo:
sketches of the Pipistrello lamp (©photo:
the Pipistrello lamp (©photo:

For the lamps fiftieth birthday, in 2015, two new versions were made: a decorated version and a 24K plated gold version.

Here you are, do you like it? And guess what?… I’m already “totally in love” hehe.

the gold version Pipistrello lamp (©photo:

Below here are her other important pieces, and at times irreverent, creations of light and product design:

the outdoor set Locus Solus, 1964, for Exteta (@photo:
the Sgarsul armchair, 1971, for Poltronova (©photo:
the floor lamp, 1972, (©photo:
the Tour table for Fontana Arte (©photo:
the table with wheels for Fontana Arte (©photo:
the wall lamp Parola for Fontana Arte (©photo:
the Stringa sofa for Poltronova (©photo:
the floor lamp Parola for Fontana Arte (©photo:
the table lamp for Stilnovo (©photo:
the lawn chair Locus Solus for Exteta (@photo:
the table lamp Giova for Fontana Arte (©photo:

What do you think of Gae Aulenti? And her products? Was there one that particularly struck you? Are there other women who you think made the history of design? Who? Even those less known is fine! Let me know everything below in the comments!

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