Ico Parisi

Domenico “Ico” Parisi was born in Palermo on September 23, 1916, but his family moved soon thereafter to Como.

He was a student at the Istituto Tecnico G. Castellini in Como. Following in the footsteps of his father, who was an excellent painter, he began to take an interest in avant-garde painting, especially in abstract art, as well as photography.


In June 1940, when Italy entered the war, he was sent to the Russian front, which was a traumatic experience that he gave external expression to in many photographs and paintings.

These works became the basis for his first exhibition at the Como Gallery in 1943.

From 1945 on, he started participating in prestigious exhibitions, such as at the Galleria del Sagrato in Milan in collaboration with other architects such as Gio Ponti, Paolo Buffa, and Guglielmo Ulrich.

He married in 1947 and then opened his first studio in Como, where his first prestigious projects started to come in, such as for furnishing of the Milanese headquarters of the State Library, and taking part in international exhibitions such as the Italian Contemporary Art Exhibition in Geneva.

In the same year, he started a prolific collaboration with the interior designer Fede Cheti in Milan, earning him a place in 1948 on the cover of the prestigious Domus interior design magazine.

He was invited to be part of the Italian section of the 34th Salon of Decorative Artists at the Palais de New York in Paris.

In 1949, construction started on the Carcano House in Como, the first instance of involving several artists (Mario Radice and Fausto Melotti) in the same project following a principle of integrating the arts, which later became universal.


In 1953, he started his significant collaboration with Cesare Cassina and the company Figli di Amedeo Cassina di Meda, but it wasn’t until 1954 that his name became definitively established.

For the 10th Triennale, Parisi, along with the architect Silvio Longhi and the engineer Luigi Antonietti, designed the Living Room Pavilion at Parco Sempione in Milan, which won the gold medal.

In the same year, he started to work with Altamira in New York, in the company of other excellent designers.

Among his colleagues were the likes of Franco Albini, Melchiorre Bega, Carlo de Carli, Ignazio Gardella, Cesare Lacca, Gio Ponti and Nino Zoncada.

At the second Compasso d’Oro, he received two honorable mentions: for the chair model 691 and for the armchair model 839, both produced by Cassina.

In 1957, he started working with MIM (Modern Italian Furniture) in Rome with the design of the first MIM store at Largo dei Lombardi 9, as well as with Barovier & Toso, a historic glass factory in Murano, Venice.

The legendary Casa Parisi in Como was completed in 1958.  Whose graffito cement and glass floor was designed by Lucio Fontana, glazed ceramic tiles were by Fausto Melotti, and a water pinwheel by Bruno Munari.

In 1959, he worked on designing furnishing accessories with the Roman firm Stildomus by Aldo Bartolomeo. With the collection he designed, named Stil domuselezione, he participated two years after that in the first Milan Furniture Fair.


In 1960, he worked with Arteluce of Milan.

The year 1968 was a turning point for Parisi as well as the start of conceiving a new way of thinking about home living. With Contenitoriumani, which he designed made with Francesco Somaini and presented for the first time at the Milan Furniture Fair in September 1968, Parisi forged a new path for a different, original utopian-existential concept of living, though he never completely abandoned his design work.


For example, in the 1970s, he focused on projects such as Ipotesi for an existential house with Cesar at the Galerie Germain in Paris, and, importantly, Operation Arcevia named for a town in the province of Ancona.

This groundbreaking housing design involved figures the caliber of Arman, Alberto Burri, Mario Ceroli, César, Soto, and Michelangelo Antonioni.

In the late 1970s, Parisi focused almost exclusively on art as a provocative expression of protest. Such as his installation Sigillo n.2 — a car stuck in a wall in Via dei Filippini in Rome.


In the 1980s, he was invited to prestigious exhibitions such as Documenta in Kassel and the Pompidou Center in Paris.