Rodolfo Dordoni

A homage to the life of Architect and Designer Rodolfo Dordoni through some of his most iconic and enduring designs

In the world of design, few names are as synonymous with innovation, elegance and an unwavering commitment to their craft as that of Rodolfo Dordoni. The rationalist architect and mastermind Italian designer was credited with being a genius in his field, and over his lifetime, he left an indelible mark on the landscape of design globally. Born in the vibrant city of Milan in 1954, Dordoni’s career began with his deep-rooted passion for architecture, and evolved into a lifelong relationship with furniture design. His passing in August this year has left an undeniable void, but his legacy endures through his timeless pieces and the profound impact he had on Italian design. Here we celebrate the life work of one of the world’s greatest designers.

Rodolfo Dordoni’s career took its most pivotal turn when, in 1979 after graduating from the renowned Politecnico di Milano, he joined forces with Giulio Cappellini, a widely respected figure in the design world. This collaboration set the stage for Dordoni’s enduring impact on the industry. Over the years, he lent his creative genius to some of Italy’s most iconic design brands, including Cappellini, Kettal, Cassina, Roda, Artemide, Molteni&C and, of course, Minotti.

Rodolfo Dordoni with Renato Minotti, co-CEO of the brand with his brother Roberto — Courtesy of Minotti S.p.A

In fact, it was his artistic direction at Minotti that truly defined his legacy. In 1998, after forming a firm friendship with the Minotti brothers Renato and Roberto, Dordoni took the helm as the artistic director of the renowned Italian furniture company. Under his guidance, Minotti blossomed into an international powerhouse, known for its exquisite craftsmanship and timeless pieces. Dordoni’s remarkable vision, passion and dedication not only shaped the brand’s identity but also established a distinctive stylistic language that resonated across the globe. 

Beyond his role at Minotti, Dordoni’s influence was multi-faceted and far-reaching. He co-founded his eponymous architecture firm Dordoni Architetti alongside Luca Zaniboni and Alessandro Acerbi in 2005. Together, they ventured into architectural planning and interior design, crafting spaces that seamlessly merged functionality with aesthetics. Dordoni’s designs were marked by a rationalist approach, emphasising clean lines, impeccable proportions, and enduring elegance. His creations, from architectural marvels to indoor and outdoor furniture, reflected his commitment to discreet sophistication that transcended trends. His iconic ‘Suitcase’ chair for Minotti, inspired by the world of fashion and luggage, first exemplified his penchant for merging form and function, something he continued as a signature throughout his career. 

Dordoni’s passing in August 2023 left a void in the design world, but his legacy endures through his timeless pieces and the profound impact he had on Italian design. More than merely a designer Dordoni was a true artist who found the perfect balance between creative passion and unwavering dedication, leaving behind a body of work that continues to inspire and captivate design enthusiasts worldwide. His genius will undoubtedly be remembered and cherished for generations to come.

Suitcase Line for Minotti

Suitcase Line for Minotti (1997)

The Suitcase chair, an iconic piece of design that was originally conceived by Rodolfo Dordoni in 1997, underwent a contemporary revamp in Minotti’s 2019 Suitcase Line. Still maintaining the linear precision of the original, the new iteration saw the chrome feet removed, allowing it to sit gracefully on the floor. Four sleek aluminium strips were introduced to adorn the corners, offering a tantalising glimpse of the luxurious upholstery beneath. Available in various fabrics and leathers, the Pony Look version, featuring calfskin with a ponyskin print, adds an extra layer of sophistication. New colour options, including Oil Green, Burgundy, Ash Grey and Sage, breathe fresh life into this iconic piece, that still carries the timeless air of the original.

Guest Dining Chair for Poliform (2001) 

Embodying softness and simplicity, Rodolfo Dordoni’s Guest seat redefined elegance in living and dining spaces. This chair, reminiscent of a throne, boasts a flexible moulded polyurethane structure with a robust metal frame, ensuring both comfort and longevity. Its non-removable fabric or leather upholstery combines comfort with the durability required for frequent use while its most unique feature is a set of discreetly concealed swivel wheels, which facilitate effortless manoeuvring. Dordoni’s Guest chair embodies a harmonious blend of aesthetics and practicality, inviting you to relax in style.

Left: Guest Dining Chair for Poliform. Right: Cesar Coffee Table for Minotti

Cesar Coffee Table for Minotti (2004)

In this striking and versatile piece, Rodolfo Dordoni seamlessly merged functionality with artistry. Able to be doubled as a stool or accent table, the Cesar injects contemporary flair into any room. Its dynamic form, resembling a vibrant zigzag, comes alive in an array of colours. And beyond its aesthetic allure, Cesar’s minimalist design ensures adaptability, making it a timeless Minotti icon. Whether used as a coffee table or a supportive surface, it effortlessly complements both indoor and outdoor settings and stands as a testament to Dordoni’s visionary touch, offering both style and substance in one elegant package.

Ray for Flos (2007)

This contemporary lighting collection was designed by Rodolfo Dordoni for iconic brand Flos, and comprises a series of pieces perfect for any kind of space. From the table lamp to the floor lamp and the suspension light, Ray’s various iterations are connected by their distinctive drum diffusers, which were allegedly inspired by the timeless silhouette of a lighthouse. Combining classic and cutting-edge aesthetics. Ray is a testament to Dordoni’s ability to blend tradition and innovation seamlessly, offering a captivating lighting solution for discerning design enthusiasts. 

Left: Bitta Collection for Kettal. Right: Ray for Flos

Bitta Collection for Kettal (2011) 

A masterful expression of Rodolfo Dordoni’s singular design eye, the Bitta collection for Kettal is a revelation in outdoor furniture. Dordoni was inspired by the mooring ropes of boats (‘Bitta’ means mooring in Italian), crafting pieces that were made with aluminium frames and braided polyester seats that allowed air to pass through while maintaining a cosy, nest-like appearance. The addition of plush cushions ensures that every piece in the Bitta Collection exudes both comfort and elegance. Elsewhere, the collection’s tables are topped in either teak and stone, completing the set perfectly and creating a harmonious blend of natural colours. Ultimately, Bitta is an invitation to unwind and relax in style, and saw Dordoni, once again, redefining outdoor lounging.

Freeman Seating System for Minotti

Freeman Seating System for Minotti (2012)

This exceptional seating system offers outstanding flexibility through a harmonious blend of two distinct personalities. The ‘Duvet’ elements embody pure relaxation, with their smooth lines and extra-soft cushions (reminiscent of a warm embrace). In contrast, the ‘Tailor’ elements exude a contemporary spirit with graphic top-stitching and defined shapes. Together, they create multitasking compositions, adapting to different moments and lifestyles. The sofa’s elegance extends to its extruded aluminium frame, cast aluminium joint fittings and glossy bronze-painted metal feet, adding sophistication and lightness to any living space. Freeman is a true example of Rodolfo Dordoni’s meticulous approach to design, and the careful ways he would blend classic and modern elements.

Harp Armchair for Roda

Harp Armchair for Roda (2013)

Rodolfo Dornoni’s Harp armchair for Roda is crafted from woven polyester cords with cotton finishing that gracefully encircle a hand-welded, powder-coated stainless steel frame, creating an uninterrupted, elegant silhouette. The Harp collection introduces a burst of colour with its vibrant cushions while maintaining an airy aesthetic, thanks to thick cords that allow light to bounce through. A celebration of craftsmanship, the Harp armchair is available in a variety of versatile finishes and colours designed to seamlessly blend into any setting. 

Sail Out Table for Cassina (2020)

Elegance, modernity and functionality collide in Rodolfo Dordoni’s Sail Out table for Cassina. This low side table is a testament to contemporary design, offering a choice of yellow and white or green and white terrazzo or cement tops, supported by sturdy, solid teak feet. Part of the wider Sail Out family that includes a modular sofa and a versatile pouf in two different sizes, this table is sleek, durable and destined to be a talking point in any outdoor line-up. 

Left: Sail Out Table for Cassina. Right: Barbican Chair for Molteni&C

Barbican Chair for Molteni&C (2021)

The core feature of the Barbican chair by Rodolfo Dordoni for Molteni&C is its built-in padded seat, which can be open or with armrests, encased in a rigid polyurethane frame that offers fabric or luxurious leather upholstery options. Encapsulating the perfect balance of comfort and style, with three base options, including wood or metal, this chair is adaptable to a range of interior settings, and (like most of Dordoni’s designs) embodies timeless sophistication and striking but simple style.

Shop The Mag

From internationally touring shows to riveting exhibitions, music festivals, must-see comedy shows and more, here’s everything you need to book this summer season
How to bring the hues of summer into your makeup rotation for the months ahead
Fake it ‘till you make it: we’ve rounded up the top tans promising a faux glow this summer