Mario Botta (1943-)

Swiss architect and designer, born Mendrisio, Ticino, and active Lugano.


Botta began to study technical drawing in 1958 under architects Tita Carloni and Luigi Camenisch. By the time he entered the Liceo Artistico in Milan he had already designed a building ¬ó the 1963 clergy house at Genestretta. He completed his studies at the Instituto Universitario di Architettura in Venice. For a brief period in 1965, Botta worked in Le Corbusier´s studio, assisting with the design of a hospital. In 1969, Botta met Louis Kahn in Venice; he helped prepare an exhibition to introduce the eminent American architect´s design for a new civic building. He opened his own office that same year; Le Corbusier, Kahn, and Carlo Scarpa all influenced his early work. Notable projects from this period include the Capuchin convent, Lugano, the Crafts Centre, Balerna, and an administration building for the Staatsbank, Fribourg. Botta had become an international celebrity by the 1980s, when he was awarded the commission to design the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco. Given its references to classical architecture, his later work is more characteristic of postmodernism.

Botta began to design furniture in the early 1980s, chiefly for the Italian company Alias. His pieces are cool, glamorous, and angular. Notable works include the Seconda chair (1982), the Quarta chair (1984), the Testi table (1986), and the Quinta chair (1986). He has also designed lighting for Artemide.

In 1986, the Museum of Modern Art in New York honored Botta with a one man exhibition. His furniture is included in that institution´s permanent collection.

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