Franco Mello

Turin, Italy

Designer Franco Mello was born in Genoa, Italy in 1945. While information on the designer is limited, he is highly regarded for his iconic Cactus coat rack (c. 1972), a piece he co-designed with fellow Italian Guido Drocco for the Gufram brand. Playfully rebellious, Cactus questions the traditional dividing line between indoor and outdoor and exemplifies the kind of experimentation enabled by the era’s rapid advances in new synthetic materials. It was part of Gufram’s Multipli series of the late 1960s and early 1970s: a collection of icons produced in self-hardening polyurethane foam with a patented lacquered finish, called Guflac.

Since that time, Mello and Drocco’s cactus form has been rereleased by Gufram in a variety of colors and names, including the white Biancocactus, the black Nerocactus, and the red Rossocactus (all 2010), and the 2012 Metacactus, whose coloring mimics being burnt by the sun. The original is included in the collections of several institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, both in New York; the Centre Georges Pompidou and the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, both in Paris; the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany; and Tate Modern, London.

Mello lives in both Turin and Spineto Scrivia, Italy, and teaches Industrial Design for Visual Communication at the Polytechnic University of Turin.