Marco Zanuso, one of Italy's leading postwar designers and an architect known for a functional yet elegant style, died Wednesday in Milan after a long illness. He was 85.
Zanuso was among the furniture designers responsible for convincing people that plastic was a suitable material for the home. With his partner, German designer Richard Sapper, he designed a small, stackable child's chair in 1961 and manufactured it in several playful colors. The light, functional piece was instantly popular.
He and Sapper also designed a series of radios and TVs for the Brionvega electronics company that became enduring icons of the sleek, minimalist style known as techno-functionalism. Among the best-known pieces in that line was the stylish plastic TS502 radio with a clamshell cover. They also designed the folding Grillo phone for Siemens, one of the first phones to put the dial and earpiece on the same unit.
A sleek technological-style approach and a concern for the natural landscape marked Zanuso's architecture. Among his best-known buildings are the Olivetti headquarters in Argentina and Brazil, IBM office buildings in Milan and Rome, and a drama school and theater in his hometown of Milan.