Gae Aulenti was an Architect, installation artist, lighting and interior designer and provoking theoretician. She was born in Palazzolo della Stella, Udine in Italy. Aulenti studied architecture form the Milan Polytechnic University and graduated in 1953.
Between 1954 and 1962 Aulenti worked as a graphic designer and editorial staff at a magazine called Casabella Continuita. In later time she also worked on the directorial board of the “Lotus International” magazine. In early 1960s Gae Aulenti got involved with a number of projects and along with that also made contributions in the field of teaching. She started this career off by first reserving position of a professor at the Venice School of Architecture from 1960 to 1962 and later from 1964-67 she taught at the Milan School of Architecture. Other than architecture Aulenti got immense fame due to her exceptional furniture designs. Throughout sixties she proposed a vast variety of furniture designs for a departmental store and won Milan Triennial prize for her work. She herself stated her major strategy for furniture design as, “I aim to create furniture that appears in a room as buildings on a skyline and reminds the viewer of the interaction between objects of design and architectural space.”
On the other hand while designing buildings major emphasize of Aulenti has always been to restore the old architectural values and blend them with the existing environments. Thus, amalgamation of traditional architectural techniques with requirements of current times was the major area of focus throughout her career. Her work has always been an inspiration for younger generation and critics have always shown great interest in her projects. Gae Aulenti’s contribution in this field helped change the general outlook regarding architecture and provided cities with an altogether new profile. She always tried to draw real soul of spaces without making any compromises with functionality and aesthetics. In her own words she always explained her work as being profoundly intertwined with their surrounding domain. Aulenti’s major architectural contributions mainly consisted of large museums and she owns a number of large scale museums from ‘80s on her credit.
Along with furniture design and architecture, Aulenti also wrote a number of pieces and worked as a set designer as well. She always tried to create forms that may trigger the sensual experiences of users and form experiential connections with spaces and not only create experiences but also induce new series of events and encounters.
Some of Aulenti’s major contributions are:
- the piazza Cadorna in Milan (2000)
- the National Museum of Catalunya art in Barcelona (1985-2004)
- Palazzo Branciforte in Palermo (2012)
- the restoration of the La Fenice theatre in Venice (after a devastating fire hit it in 1996)
- the main gallery of Musee d’Orsay
Aulenti fell prey to chronic illness and died on October 31, 2012 in Milan shortly after receiving Milan Triennial prize on 16 October, just a few weeks shy of her 85th birthday.