12 JANUARY 2023


It was from a simple cubic box, open on one side, that yet another revolution by Aldo Rossi started in the 90s.

A few years before his unfortunate death, the famous Milanese architect laid the foundations for the Cartesio bookcase with that simple square in painted sheet metal, a piece of design that can be defined as revolutionary for the way it already at the time interpreted the needs of a modern office within a domestic space, first of all modularity.

Designed for UniFor as part of a project by the Bonnefanten Museum in Maastricht, the Cartesio bookcase offers a rather unprecedented compositional freedom for its time, thanks to the possibility of forming one's own ideal piece of furniture by grouping the cubic-shaped boxes according to the available spaces.

It is just one of the many iconic pieces designed by Aldo Rossi during his long and successful collaboration with the Molteni Group, which includes creations such as the Museo chair or the Parigi armchair, also included within the context of the ideal office according to the architect's vision.



Known above all as an architect, thanks to prestigious projects including the renovation of the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa, the development of a residential unit in the Gallaratese district of Milan or the Modenese cemetery of San Cataldo, Aldo Rossi has established himself over the years as a very versatile creative figure, capable of standing out also as a designer and artist.

Born in 1931 in Milan, Rossi initially studied architecture at the Polytechnic before starting collaborations with Harvard, Yale and other American universities starting in 1970. The projects he supervised, as well as the awards he obtained, paved the way for highly prestigious assignments, including that of director of the architecture section of the Venice Biennale.

But Rossi's career reaches a further turning point when, thanks to his friendship with the art director Luca Meda, the architect starts a collaboration with the Molteni Group, which as a designer will allow him to create models and furnishings for the Museum of Maastricht, among which the Cartesio bookcase stands out, as well as contributing to the reconstruction of the La Fenice Theater in Venice.



Exclusively included in the UniFor archive of the most iconic pieces and part of the Molteni Museum permanent collection, the Cartesio bookcase marked an era because it was able to anticipate the trends that would characterize the modern office, especially within the home environment, responding to needs such as order and flexibility.

At the basis of Aldo Rossi's project there are cubic boxes in painted sheet metal that can be combined as desired, to obtain a bookcase with variable length, therefore adaptable to any environment.

Frontally, the bookcase is closed by a windowed facade obtained from the processing of a single plywood panel. It is also from details like this, as well as from the overall structure of Descartes, that the philosophy of the designer Aldo Rossi emerges, inevitably influenced by his education and therefore led to conceive objects as real miniature architectures, applying the same logic used in construction of buildings.

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