Paolo Buffa

Paolo Buffa

Paolo Buffa (1903-1970) architect, designer

Paolo Buffa was the son of artist Giovanni Buffa, long-considered a modern innovator of early 20th century applied arts. The elder Buffa was renowned for his studio works in stained glass, often collaborating with Eugenio Quarti and other important architects.

After graduating in 1927 from Politecnico di Milano, Paolo began training in the studio of Gio Ponti and Emilio Lancia. The following year he opened his own studio with the architect Cassi Ramelli, designing private villas and residential buildings with a strong focus on fine furniture done in the neoclassical style of the Milanese School and its luminaries: Ponti, Lancia, Buzzi, Marellin, and Albini. His designs (which included lighting and textiles) were characterized by perfect execution, for homes of the wealthy middle class with a taste for modern design, that blended functionality and comfort with quality materials. His pieces were primarily executed by the highly skilled artisans of the Mario Quarti studio in Milan, by Serafino Arrighi, and later by the Angelo Marelli workshop.

In 1930 Buffa and Cassi Remelli participated in The International Exhibition of Decorative Arts,which would later become the Triennale di Milano. At this time he also began his first collaboration with Gio Ponti's Domus magazine, to which he would contribute many writings in the years to follow.

The 1933 Triennale, "Mostra dell Arredamento," presented a solo exhibition on Buffa, as well as a group show that featured his textile designs alongside works by Buzzi, Albini, and Pollini in the display hall of the government institution National Crafts and Small Industries (ENAPI).

By the time of his participation in the 1936 VI Triennale, Buffa was considered one of the elite arbiters of modern taste and style. The painter Roberto Aloi, director of “L’Arredamento Modern” (the Hoepli periodic review of modern design) dedicated more space to Buffa in his publication than to any other Italian architect in future editions.

1940 saw an intense collaboration with the acclaimed Mario Quarti furniture studio in Milan, in which Buffa created the furnishings for the Royal Palace of King Zog, in Tirana, Albania. In 1945 Ico Parisi organized the exhibition "Prima Mostra dell Arredamento" in Como. Together he and Buffa designed 12 environments, displayed as real rooms in a home. The following year the show travelled to Milan as “Mostra Mercato per la Reconstruzione” (Exhibition of Reconstruction). In addition to Buffa and Parisi, among the participants were Cassi Ramelli, Gio Ponti, and Guillermo Ulrich, all working under an objective to foster a profound collaboration between architect and expert craftsman.

In 1947 Buffa was invited by esteemed textile designer Fede Cheti to participate in the exhibition “Lo Stile nell Arredamento Moderno” (The Style of Modern Furniture), celebrating the rebirth of quality execution and technical perfection in the reinvention of classic Italian furniture. Buffa’s works were exhibited alongside those by Albini, Buzzi, Chiesa, Lacca, Minoletti, Mollino, Parisi, Rava, and Ulrich. The following year, Cheti took the exhibition to Paris, organizing the Italian Pavilion at the 34th Salon de Artistes Decorators, in which furniture, textiles, objects, fine art, and sculpture were presented. The French public held Buffa in high esteem for his exquisite design and exacting execution, displaying an expertise that was singularly Italian.

Select Highlights
1947-51 Hotel Quirinale, Rome. In collaboration with Quarti Studio
1950 Ocean liner Leonardo da Vinci
1951-52 State rooms for the Royal "Maharoussa" yacht of King Farook of Egypt
1950s - 1960s Banking institutions in the province of Lombardia, with continued public and private commissions in Milan as well as interiors for refined upper class resorts and hotels.

Primary Artisan Workshops
Mario Quarti, Milan
Angelo Marelli, Cantu
Serafino Arrighi, Cantu

Domus, Milan
R. Aloi. L'Arredamento Moderno. Hoepli. Milan,1952
R. Aloi. Esempi di Arredamento Moderno di Tutto il Mundo. Hoepli. Milan, 1955
Eredi di Angelo Marelli. Paolo Buffa Designer 1938-1968. Cantu, 1993
R. Rizzi. I Mobili di Paolo Buffa. Cantu, 2001