Luigi Colani is The Da Vinci of Design

24.04.2019 | By PAOLO BOCCHI

A designer, a maverick, an open mind, a multifaceted professional, an innovator and even more: this is Luigi Colani, born in 1928: someone who was talking about Organic Design back in 1950 while sketching race cars and motorbikes, a couple of which made it to the Pompidou.


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“I really don’t have anything to do with the world of design 

An interview statement spoken by someone who had started doing design since the word itself, “design”, didn’t even exist.

Now that literally anything and anyone is “design”, from dish racks to speedboats, 91-year-old Luigi Colani, born in Berlin in 1928 and a designer since ever, is even firmer on his position.

Colani, in fact, couldn’t look any more distant from the “designer stereotype” you can spot here and there in Milan during the Salone del Mobile week. Just like his projects look and feel light-years away from the PR-objects exposed by today’s global designers at the Milanese decor festival.

Luigi Colani is so “ahead” that he should have been born “way back”.

Luigi Colani could have been a Renaissance man, and would have probably put up a pretty great match against the genius Leonardo da Vinci. Like Leonardo, Colani is an all-rounder, someone who plays 360-degrees with his sketches, projects, ideas;

and with his nature-based approach, who led him to talk about Organic Design ahead of time, when the rest of the world was still debating on Industrial Design.

Colani has always rejected the laws of classic design, claiming that his projects are (normally) composed of 90% nature, 10% Colani.


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Is there anything more contemporary than that?

Yet, aside the obvious contribution from his love&respect for nature, Colani apparently traces the roots of his method back to his predecessors. When carrying out a personal research on his origins, Luigi Colani found out that his father had North-Iraqi roots; namely, from a tribe named Golani.

Hence the “Oriental language” in Colani’s design; his ancestral love for nature, for fine drawing, for arabesques. This “Oriental side” of his is what made him fit in smoothly in the notoriously difficult world of Japanese professional life as a designer. Colani loves to say that “the technical age has constrained our view of the true achievements of mother nature.” 

A vision that resulted in a number of important collaborations, including: Tachikichi, Sunreeve Optical, Yoshinaga Prince, Nishikawa Sangyo, Otaru Expo, Daiwa Seiko, Fujo Group, Canon, Yamaha Motor, Sony, etc.


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To Colani, words come cheap; what matters is facts and actual projects, in every field.

Fashion? Counting on his study of Aerodynamics at Paris’s Sorbonne, he came up with a new shape of women’s shoes that Roger Vivier – the Head of Shoes at Dior at that time – saw and bought right away.


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Automotive? An iconic example is the result of his collaboration with another genius: Colin Chapman. The renowned Lotus engineer from England turned Colani’s aerodynamic sketches and ideas into actual, super-fast racing car prototypes.

Technology? The unparalleled Canon “T90” project is an all-time iconic (and unsettling) piece. Its maximum ease of use and unique handle make this camera one of the highest achievements of d esign ever. Everything, in this project, is modeled after the user’s hand. No hand adapting itself to the object.

Simple. Clever . Natural.

In spite of his ripe old age, or maybe thanks to it, in a time filled with designers that claim to be/design/project “eco” and “bio” like the one we’re living in, Luigi Colani, with his voice outside of the crowd and constantly non-conformist attitude, sounds like the only true representative of what he proudly calls “ecological design”.

“What I do is very closely related to the philosophy of form 



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