Journal: Giorgetto Giugiaro was the Greatest Designer of the 20th Century

Giorgetto Giugiaro was the Greatest Designer of the 20th Century

Benjamin Shahrabani By Benjamin Shahrabani
September 17, 2014
11 comments

Photography by Rémi Dargegen for Artcurial Motorcars

Mr. Giorgetto Giugiaro was born in Garessio, Italy on August 7th, 1938. His grandfather Luigi painted church frescoes, and Giorgetto’s father, Mario, produced decorative religious art and oil paintings. So it is perhaps no small coincidence that Giorgetto would follow in his family’s artistic footsteps. In 1952, at the ripe, old age of fourteen (!), he moved to Torino to enroll in the design school.

Giorgetto, however, would worship at a different altar than his father and grandfather before him. Enrolled at the design school of Golia, the famous 1920s caricaturist, Giugiaro studied fine art by day, and technical design by night. In 1955, at an end of school year exhibition by the students, some of Giugiaro’s automotive drawings caught the eye of Golia’s nephew, and Fiat’s chief engineer, Mr. Dante Giacosa. Impressed, Giascosa signed the young Giugiaro, only seventeen, to the Fiat Special Vehicles Styling Center located in Mirafiori. However, during his tenure there, none of his designs were approved. Growing frustrated, Giugiaro presented some of his stillborn work to design luminary Mr. Nuccio Bertone, who assigned Giugiaro a test design. After Bertone bought the test drawing, he decided he had better hire the young designer quickly. That test drawing? It became the Alfa Romeo 2000, and Giugiaro’s first car.

Giugiaro’s innate talent was allowed to grow unfettered and quickly at Betone, and within a short time, he became head of styling. While there he worked on many notable designs including the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint, Ferrari 250GT SWB Bertone, BMW 3200CS, Maserati Ghibli, De Tomaso Mangusta, Iso Rivolta Grifo, and even the Mazda Familia, that company’s first production car. After six highly productive years, however, Giugiaro left to join Ghia, another Italian carrozzeria and design firm. He continued to work with many of the same car makers, assisting on the Maserati Ghibli, Iso Rivolta Fidia, and even a Ford Mustang concept, but feeling constrained by management at Ghia, after two short years, he left and founded Italdesign-Giugiaro in February, 1968.

Investing his own capital, both professionally and financially, Giugiaro would grow the company into a global design icon. In 1971, Giugiaro further expanded and set up a division for Industrial design which would develop and prototype all manner of products aside from automobiles–motorcycles, interiors for boats and aircraft, home and office furniture, watches, guns, cameras, and sunglasses amongst them. But he never lost his passion for car design–Giugiaro’s company has worked with almost every major car manufacturer, and has developed and styled an estimated two-hundred cars, a prolific amount in itself, besides developing many others that were never produced. Among the most well known that did see production are the Volkswagen Golf, BMW M1, Maserati Bora, Lotus Esprit, DeLorean DMC12, and the humble Yugo.

Giugiaro has won numerous design accolades in his career, amongst them a Compasso D’Oro for his work on the Fiat Panda. in 1995, he was awarded the Golden Steering Wheel for his career to date and a second Compasso D’Oro for his Fiat Punto design. In 1999, a jury of over 130 automotive journalists elected Giugiaro as “Designer of the Century”. Further cementing his name in design, In 2002, Giugiaro was inducted into the ‘Hall of Fame’ at the Palaexpo in Geneva, alongside other luminaries of the industry. Although you would think one couldn’t get any higher than Designer of the Century, people keep throwing awards at him–in 2013 he was awarded the Antonio Feltrinelli Prize, an Italian “Nobel” prize that celebrates the world masters in the fields of Moral and Historic Sciences, Natural Physics and Mathematics, Literature, Art, and Medicine.

In 2010 the Volkswagen Group bought a majority stake of Italdesign-Giugiaro. While no longer independent, the association ensures that Giugiaro’s firm will have plenty of design work in the foreseeable future for the company’s many brands.

Image Source: italdesign.it

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11 Comments on "Giorgetto Giugiaro was the Greatest Designer of the 20th Century"

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Tony Karnezis
Tony Karnezis

One of my favorite designs of his is the Nikon F4S. I think it is one of the most beautifully functional camera designs.

Gundars Zemitis

Thanks to Mr Giugiaro we have awesome looking first generation of Audi 80 b2. Face-lift just destroyed original design sadly afterwards.

Ae Neuman
Ae Neuman

gg was one of the few eurpopean designers embraced by the japanese.
his isuzu 117 coupe was beautiful, as was the piazza replacement.
british leyland appropriated the ital name for it’s revised marina – widely acknowledged as one of the worst british cars ever.

Rafal Sajewicz

Even the most modern-looking polish car of 70/80` Polonez was designed by Giuggiaro and Italdesign!

Paul Harvey
Paul Harvey

Hmmm. Michelotti would have great claims to the same title!

Dustin Rittle
Dustin Rittle

Looks like it could be a nice wallpaper!

Mike McKinnon
Mike McKinnon

Absolutely. I’ve owned two, a mkI Rabbit and an Alfa GTV6. I think what makes the designs so wonderful is that they’re so of the time they were created, but also timeless. I won’t say they are all objectively beautiful, although they do mix practical aspects with Italian flair. We could do with more of that today.

J. Noel
J. Noel

Volkswagen Golf = Golf 1…

James
James

I was just looking over the list of cars he is credited with, the one that is missing from your graphic and should be there is the Golf 1. i have also had the pleasure of owning a few of his designs, all absolutely stunning. This was my first and in a way my favourite [url=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfa_Romeo_Sprint”][/url]

TJ Martin
TJ Martin
Yes he was ! Most definitely . Having owned a few GG design cars the best part beyond the overall looks was the amount of interior space in relationship to the small footprint of the cars he designed and the outward visibility available regardless of whether it was an exotic or a hatchback . In other words : Function AND Form … in spades ! Which has become rare as hens teeth in todays automotive design world . They now preferring excess footprint with minimal interior space , blind spots galore and Form definitely rough riding over Function .
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