Giorgetto Giugiaro was the Greatest Designer of the 20th Century
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