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la casa bella 2 coverAs the name implies, the “Casabella Magazine (which started life as “La Casa Bella”) published in Italy by the Mondadori publishing house, is a magazine with an online edition as well. It promotes international design and architecture with a lot of emphasis on the Italian scene. We do not have the first issue in our collection, but the above shown number 2 cover can do well to illustrate our post.

la casa bella 6-8la casa bella 6-10la casa bella 6-7la casabella 6-2la casa bella 6-6Like Domus Magazine it was founded in 1928, the heyday of Italian Modernism. Under the direction of the writer, art lover and critic Guido Marangoni, it started off very modestly focusing on all things around the house dealing with both its interior and exterior aspects. This is well illustrated in an article describing a modern apartment in Milan. (shown below)

la casa bella 6-1la casa bella 6-4la casa bella 6-5The big news items covered in this issue are the Murano glass and other items sent to the famous Barcelona Exhibition where the world would see a completely new type of furniture by Mies van der Rohe in tubular steel in the German Pavillon.

la casa bella 2 items send to the Barcelona exhibitionThe first numbers of this new magazine carry little advertising,

but they are obviously geared to an up scale clientele, like the one (top of post) for the Lenci dolls. We can show you also a simple color illustration here by the popular graphic and poster designer Marcello Dudovich who exalts the slim female figure so loved during those Belle Époque years.

Some of the ads have a distinct graphic design and what we would today define as an Art Deco feel to them, especially when they depict fabrics or items for interior decoration like the one below.The magazine designed to inform the somewhat elite reader was in the first few years of its existence certainly not a real competitor to Domus Magazine that was edited by the architect Gio Ponti. Gio Ponti with his towering figure added a much more dynamic presence to the dull art and architectural press scene in Italy of that period that was led by Emporio Magazine and older but small publications focusing more on the fine arts. Below, the only advertisement with a modernist graphic feel comes from the town of Torino that was much more a hotbed of modernism in those years than Milan.

la casa bella 6-12The focus of Casabella Magazine changed in the mid-thirties under the direction of the architect Giuseppe Pagano and the new focus, approved by the fascist Mussolini regime, was decidedly more architectural. A new magazine format, a better graphic layout largely due to the Torinese graphic artist and writer Eduardo Persico gave the magazine a more “modernist” not wanting to use the word Bauhaus influenced look . Milan had by now overtaken Torino as the place to be for architectural work and study and had also affirmed its rightful place as Italy’s business center. Rome would always remain the center of government. These new editorial and graphic criteria put it at par with architectural magazines in other countries especially so after the various Triennale Fairs of 1933 and 1936.

The proliferation of new e-zines, glossy magazines on design and “way out” architecture often makes one forget that these “noble” (or cream of the crop) magazines have an illustrious history to which few people pay attention, sometimes not even the publishers do!

Without mentioning these wonderful historic magazines every once in a while, we might tend to think that these Italian greats like Casabella, as well as, Domus have sunken into oblivion! In my opinion, the rapid succession of editorial staff in both have not contributed to any real growth in both these magazines.