Giuseppe Zambonini (1942–1990) was what some would call a polymath, but design always seemed to be at the center of whatever project he was working on at the moment. The Italian born architect died unexpectedly in 1990 and now his archives have come into the collection of the Kellen Design archives at Parsons The New School for Design.
Zambonini was an important figure on the New York design scene from when he arrived in the city in 1972. He studied under Leonardo Benevolo and Leonardo Ricci in Florence and then in Venice with Carlo Scarpa (who directed his thesis on the architectural history of Verona) and Carlo Aymonino, Ignazio Gardella, and Aldo Rossi.
After a stint as a theater impresario, Zambonini gravitated to The New York School of Interior Design and eventually founded his own school, Open Atelier of Design (OAD), a non-accredited atelier and design build studio. He organized and curated the first American exhibition on Carlo Scarpa. Photographs of the exhibition are included in the collection.
The Kellen Design Archives was created in 1995 to document Parsons’ history, but has since become a major repository of New York design with special strengths in 20th century American fashion, interior, graphic, and environmental design, illustration, photography, product design, and design education. It houses the papers of major figures like Ivan Chermayeff, Michael Kalil, graphic designer Bea Feitler, and the archives of Saks Fifth Avenue’s fashion publicity department.
The Zambonini archives are an important addition to The New School collection. At OAD, he stressed that students study architecture, interior design, and product design as one piece, and his emphasis on design build is similar to the academic approach stressed at Parsons. The collection was brought to the collection by Parsons professor Robert Kirkbride, one of Zambonini’s last students.