Less could mean more
by Daniel von Bernstorff | 1/21/2010
Colani Design Germany GmbH
T: +49 (0)721-783 198
F: +49 (0)721-783 1686
Born in Berlin in 1928, Luigi Colani embarked on his extraordinary career as a designer in Paris in the early 1950s, focusing at first ofn automobile design.
After studying aerodynamics at the Sorbonne and a period spent in the United States working for aircraft-maker Douglas, where he was able to study the use of new materials, in 1953 he moved to SIMCA in France where he developed the very first fully plastic carbody. And ever since, the design and use of plastic has played a crucial role in his cosmos.
In 1955, Colani returned to his native Berlin, with a head full of great visions and a portfolio of international experience. Back in the former capital, he started to devise prize-winning chassis designs for high-end carbody makers Erdmann & Rossi and Rometsch. At the same time, he advanced his plastic designs and this culminated in the 1960s in his compact Colani GT sportscar, which was available as a DIY kit on a VW platform and swiftly emerged as an icon of life in the 1960s.
The plastic furniture Colani produced in the 1960s for German manufacturers made him a world-famous Pop star of design. In 1972, in the moated Castle Harkotten in Central West Germany, Colani the multi-talented genius established a "Designfactory" that gave a new shape to almost all spheres of life by bringing innovative shapes and revolutionary concepts to bear. In the 1970s, he prepared studies for high-performance gliders ready to sail across the Atlantic, oil tankers with new types of propellers, ecological cars that set world records using only 1.7l of gas for 100 kilometers, not to mention epoch-making products for the ceramic and sanitary industries, brought to market by the likes of Grohe and Rosenthal. The VW corporation paid Colani immense sums to gaze into the future and compile studies for the autos of tomorrow for them, and allowed him to use their works wind tunnel to test his fuel-saving carbodies and his high-speed vehicles.
By this time, Colani was the best-known designer the world over - recognizable by his "Colani" signature on all his designs and products as well as by the biodynamic forms he created, modeled after nature itself.
In the early 1980s, Colani started work for Canon, the leading camera manufacturer of the day, for Sony, the home electronics giant, and for carmakers Mazda, not to forget countless companies with a lifestyle focus. His SLR camera, the T90, became world famous and in 1988 Colani's organically shaped headphones for Sony, the very first of their kind, were purchased for the permanent collection at the New York Museum of Modern Art.
At his Research Studio in Bern in Switzerland, opened in 1986, he created visionary studies for supersonic airplanes, high-speed trains, bio-organic architectures, aerodynamic sports equipment, watches and jewelry. In 1989, his efforts climaxed in the presentation and tests of 13 streamlined vehicles on the Bonneville salt flats in Utah, where Colani caught the eye with his fuel-saving cars that set various land-speed records. Indeed, his entire oeuvre testifies to an inexhaustible variety of shapes and forms. In the 1990s, Colani developed the first PC without edges and right angles for Vobis. In 2002, at his design studio in Karlsruhe he presented the 7th feasible prototype for a pioneering streamlined truck on a Mercedes platform. That same year, Colani scored another triumphant success when his dynamic studies for large shapes were presented in Munich's Neue Sammlung, the Pinakothek der Moderne's permanent design collection.