lina bo bardi


Lina Bo Bardi, born Achilina Bo, was born in Rome in 1914. After previously having studied drawing at the Artistic Lyceum, she received her architecture degree from the University of Rome in 1940, being one of the few women of her time to study architecture. However as Europe was being engulfed in World War II, it was very difficult for Bo Bardi to start a career as an architect and thus she mostly focused on illustrating, publishing and editorial work for various publications, such as Gio Ponti’s famous Domus magazine.

After the war ended Bo Bardi started her own architecture periodical, called A, Cultura della Vita. However because she had collaborated with the Italian Communist Party (one of the main pillars of the Italian resistance) she and her husband, art critic and historian Pietro Maria Bardi, had an increasingly difficult time in post-war Italy and decided to travel to Rio de Janeiro for some fresh air.

Arriving there, Bo Bardi would later describe as “Dazzling”, “…arriving by sea, the Ministry of Education And Health was advancing like a great white and blue ship against the sky. The first message of peace after the flood of World War II.” Quickly the couple decided to settle in Brazil permanently.

In Brazil, Bo Bardi re-established her occupations. Together with her husband she started the influential architecture magazine Habitat. A title that referenced Bo Bardi’s ideal of the house and it’s interior as a “habitat” to maximise human potential. While at the same time designing numerous private and public buildings.

Struggling to find a factory that was able to make their furniture designs, Bo Bardi and her husband in 1948 decided to pick up the gauntlet and do it themselves. Together with Giancarlo Palanti they found the Studio de Arte Palma and it’s factory Pau Brasil ltda. Here Bo Bardi would pioneer the use of laminated wood in Brazil, as well as furniture with a bent tubular base. Although the factory closed quite quickly, attributed by her husband to an “anti-modern mentality of the Brazilian society”, Bo Bardi’s career developed with great speed. 1951 being the pivotal year, when everything came together. Only several years after she and her husband had left the old world. Bo Bardi became a naturalised Brazilian citizen, the Casa de vidro (“the glass house”) her modernist masterpiece that she designed as a residence for herself and her husband was build and her now famous bowl chair was released.

After this, Bo Bardi’s career would span many more decades in which she would design public buildings, the most famous one being The São Paulo Museum of Art, theaters, churches, cultural centres, as well as jewellery, film sets and costumes and of course furniture. In addition she was active as a lecturer on architecture, did editorial work and organised and curated many and varied exhibitions. All the time being conscious of the nature and essence of her newly adopted home that had given her so much.  After a rich life, Lina Bo Bardi died in 1992 at the Casa de Vidro in São Paulo.

Because of the quality of her work and her social consciousness Bo Bardi is one of the most beloved architects in her home-land of choice, Brazil.

Interesting literature:

Lina Bo Bardi: 100: Brazil's Alternative Path to Modernism, Hatje Cantz, Germany, 2015