Gianni Gilberto Ottolini

Honorary professor of Politecnico di Milano


"He has carried out theoretical, historical-critical and applied research in the disciplinary field of Interior Architecture and Design, covered in university courses of Theories and Techniques of Architectural Design, History and Criticism of Home Interiors and History of Installations, and in the teaching workshops of Building and Urban Interior Design, focused mainly on housing and residential fabrics. His teaching has included the AIA (Interior Architecture and Design) Doctorate at the Politecnico, of which he was also Coordinator, and courses in Urban Design and Theory and History of Living, taught internationally (Bogota, Madrid, Ciudad Juarez, Potsdam).

The theoretical research related to the subject has gone beyond the reductive meaning of Interior Design and has developed the brilliant thinking of G. Ponti, F. Albini and C. De Carli, situating Interior Design as the foundations of all architecture with its own specificities of optics, utility, aesthetics, dimensional scale, duration and material. In his historical-critical research and related teaching, with the contribution of the Modelling Laboratory he founded, he has supervised, in particular, the reconstruction by scale modelling of several hundred domestic interiors of historical value, exhibited in multiannual educational exhibitions and in external venues (Milan Furniture Fair and Triennale, Ethnographic Museum of St. Petersburg) under the title Civilisation of Living and related publications, as well as numerous temporary installations of historic interest.

His design research, also carried out as local or national head of MURST 40% research, has mainly focused on housing for particular groups (elderly people, students, immigrants, homeless); the recovery of the historical heritage of buildings (the physical characteristics of entire residential areas or social housing districts and individual residential or social service buildings, such as V. Viganò's Istituto Marchiondi Spagliardi); urban interiors (as in the Lighting Guide Project for the Historic Centre of Milan); and the relationship between domestic space and fixed and mobile furniture. With the project Una casa in una stanza (A House in a Room) for the elderly in 1994, he won the Silver Prize at the international design competition in Nagaoka (Japan). In the field of furniture, he was also president and scientific researcher of the Design and Furniture Gallery of the Centro Legno Arredo in Cantù, the first home of the historical collection of the ADI Compasso d'Oro award.

Among the administrative activities carried out, he was a member of the Advisory Committee 08 on research of national interest of the National University Council, Director for two terms of the Architecture Planning Department of the Polytechnic, member of the Polytechnic Commission for the reform of the Statute. He was a member of the Commission for Sacred Art, Cultural Heritage and New Churches (“Commissione per l’Arte Sacra, i Beni Culturali e le Nuove Chiese”) of the Diocese of Milan for a decade.

Among the hundreds of writings and publications (articles and short papers, research reports, books, projects), the following volumes stand out: Spazio e arredo della casa popolare (Space and Furniture in Council Houses) (1981); Hinterland n.26 (1983); Lineare Piano Volumetrico (Linear Volumetric Plan) (1987); Storia e progetto di Arredamento (History and Furniture Design) (1989); La casa attrezzata (The Equipped House) (1992); Forma e significato in Architettura (Shape and Meaning in Architecture) (1996); Civiltà dell’abitare (Civilisation of Living) (1997); Carlo De Carli e lo spazio primario (Carlo De Carli and Primary Space) (1997); Spazi e arredi delle residenze speciali (Spaces and Furnishings of Special Residences) (1997); Il magistero della bellezza (The Magisterium of Beauty) (2008); Il progetto delle residenze speciali (The Special Residencies Project) (2008); Tre scritti su Sottsass (Three Writings on Sottsass) (2013); Architettura degli interni domestici (Architecture of Home Interiors) (2015); Architettura degli Allestimenti (The Architecture of Installations) (2017)."

[career highlights kindly provided by professor Ottolini in 2023]