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Okolo Mollino

A paper-engineering tribute to Italian designer Carlo Mollino

by Evan Orensten in Design on 27 April 2012

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Okolo has long been a favorite destination for great finds in Eastern Europe. One of their latest projects caught our attention when we ran into them in Milan during Design Week—a simply bound, spine-less book on the life and work of Carlo Mollino. "Okolo Mollino" represents the publisher's tribute to the 20th-century Italian renaissance man, whose interests and talent took him from notability in architecture and interior design to prominence as an acrobatic pilot and alpine skier. The book is divided into six chapters that explore his multidimensional character, and includes various paper cutouts that can be engineered to resemble Mollino's own works, and it's limited to a scarce 80 copies.

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The text primarily covers anecdotes from Mollino's life, like the time he drove his Porsche all the way to Switzerland to obtain the first iteration of the Polaroid camera, which was unavailable in Italy at the time. He then furnished three luxurious residences to serve as spaces in which to photograph his women—mainly local Turin prostitutes—whose portraits gave him his name.

Mollino's career as designer spanned from theater houses to race cars. In his foreword, Casa Mollino curator Fulvio Ferrari lends insight into the creation of the Bisiluro Damolnar race car. "One day, while flipping through a newspaper, Mollino found a photo of the Osca car owned by his friend Mario Damonte," he says. "He immediately thought about how to improve its design and drew his visions straight on to the newspaper page. This is how Osca was transformed into Bisiluro: a revolutionary rocket-shaped car Mollino designed for the 24-hour Le Mans race a year later." Okolo-Mollino-3.jpg

One of the paper models contained in the pages is of the Zlin 226 acrobatic airplane. The Czechoslovakian plane was one of Mollino's prized possessions, decorated by the designer with distinctive yellow and black markings. The text itself is trilingual, each chapter printed in Italian, English and Czech. The 80-book run is equal parts history, paper engineering and tribute—a testament to the potential of print.

See more images of the book in our slideshow.

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