• Building the "House of Man": Design and the Modern Home in Milan, 1933–1957
    Jonathan Mekinda

Franco Albini, Renato Camus, Giancarlo Palanti, et al., Living Room of Accomodation N. 2 for Four People in the Mostra dell’Abitazione, VI Triennale di Milano, 1936. Photo: Crimella (TRN_VI_02_0062). Courtesy of the Fondazione La Triennale di Milano.

This project examines the work of a group of architects and designers in Milan who came of age professionally under Fascism and rose to international prominence after World War II, including Franco Albini, Giò Ponti, and Ernesto Rogers. Building on Rogers’s 1946 invocation of the “house of man,” it articulates the modern home as a framework with which to analyze the group’s diverse projects across the middle decades of the twentieth century, which ranged from large-scale urban plans and housing projects to homes, interiors, and even furniture and appliances. Although the upheavals of the 1940s precipitated significant changes in their practices, this study shows that the work of the group after the war embodies a vision of modern society built on ideals and strategies first articulated during the 1930s that was only displaced in the late 1950s, with the emergence of a consumption-oriented mass culture via the Miracolo Economico.

Jonathan Mekinda is a historian of architecture and design and an assistant professor in the School of Design at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His research focuses on the historical development of modern architecture and design during the middle decades of the twentieth century, particularly in Italy and the United States. Mekinda has received grants and awards from numerous organizations, among them the Fulbright US Scholar Program and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, and his writing can be found in various journals and edited volumes, including Design Issues, the Journal of Architectural Education, Art Deco Chicago: Designing Modern America (Yale University Press, 2018) and Revival: Memories, Identities, Utopias (Courtauld Books Online, 2015). In 2014, with Alexander Eisenschmidt and Matthew Wizinsky, he organized Chicagoisms at the Art Institute of Chicago. Mekinda received his AB (Honors) in architectural studies from Brown University and his MA and PhD in the history of art from the University of Pennsylvania.