Born in Milan in 1924, Boeri graduated from Milan Polytechnic in 1951 and began a long period of cooperation with Marco Zanuso, founder of Italian furniture firm Arflex.

She set up her own studio in 1963, concentrating on civil architecture and industrial design.

In 1967, Bobo Divano was released by Arflex and became the first mono-block seat in polyurethane foam with no internal structure.

The Serpentone, designed in 1971, was another revolutionary sofa made from thin sections of polyurethane articulated around a flexible central core, allowing for free-flowing shapes of unlimited length.

Soon after, Boeri created another masterpiece with the Strips sofa, which could be described as either a lounge made from sections of sleeping bags or a bed-sized puffer jacket!

The sofa’s impact would prove to be lasting – she eventually won a prestigious Compasso d’Oro industrial design award for it in 1979, and Patricia Urquiola recently stated that her critically acclaimed B&B Italia ‘Tufty-Time’ sofa was her homage to Boeri’s Strips sofa.

Many of Boeri’s designs were produced by Italian company Gavina, and in 1968 Knoll began releasing Gavina designs in the USA, including Boeri’s Lunario table, which comprised a heavy oval of glass cantilevered over a rounded block of polished chrome. In 1978, Knoll put Boeri’s Brigadier sofa into production.

This sofa was quite different from her pliable designs for Arflex, having rigid side and back panels painted in colourful gloss polyester, but it retained her signature soft upholstery internally.

Boeri often worked with glass to great effect – Harrison Ford sipped from her Cibi crystal tumbler in the iconic 1982 film Blade Runner, and in 1987 she designed the hugely popular Ghost chair in collaboration with fellow designer Tomu Katayanagi. Made by Fiam Italia from a single piece of toughened 12 millimetre-thick glass, it’s a perfectly resolved piece.

Now in her 80s, Boeri has taught at various universities around the world, including the University of California – Berkeley, the Cranbrook Academy of Arts in Michigan and her alma mater, Milan Polytechnic. Boeri hasn’t slowed down with age – in 2007, she released an aluminium shelving system called To the Wall for Italian company Magis.

Fast facts

Style

Boeri has experimented with the concept of pliability and expandability for most of her career, using materials such as polyurethane foam and bent glass to create items that push the boundaries of what an object is made of and how it can be used.The resulting shapes were revolutionary and remain so to this day.

Best known for…

Boeri’s designs of the late ’60s and early ’70s summed up a worldwide move towards looser, freer living. Her upholstered pieces for Arflex – Bobo Divano (pictured), Serpentone and Strips – achieved the unstructured, versatile seating that designers such as Joe Colombo and Verner Panton were searching for, and her Ghost chair of 1987 gained accolades around the globe.

More iconic designers:

* Karim Rashid
* Claesson Koivisto Rune (CKR)
* Brodie Neill

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