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Star designer Luigi Colani has passed away

Paula Rösler with dpa | Louisa Schaefer
September 16, 2019

Even at an advanced age, famed German designer Luigi Colani had crazy ideas. In the 1970s, he markedly influenced the world of design with his at-times-impractical, yet brilliant, shapes. He died at the age of 91.

Designer Luigi Colani wird 90: Horch-Colani 1996
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/U. Rademacher

Celebrated designer Luigi Colani died from a severe illness in Karlsruhe on Monday, September 16, his life companion, Yazhen Zhao, confirmed to German press agency dpa.

The designer could look back at a long legacy that profoundly shaped Germany's world of design. He was also known to be particularly stubborn, and refused to listen to advice concerning his work.

Colani not only designed various transportation models such as cars, trucks and airplanes, but also furniture, dishware, glasses, cameras, televisions, clothing, toilets and kitchens. "I am a successful swine and have had major opportunities," the designer once said.

Rounded forms

Never one to like sharp edges, his trademark style was composed of round, organic shapes. "My world is round," he stressed, reflecting on his striking work that influenced generations of young designers.

By no means, however, were all of his designs turned into reality. Colani himself estimated that about 70% disappeared as sketches into desk drawers. The designer once calculated that he put some 4,000 ideas onto paper, while many more still swam around in his mind.

Asked about death on his 90th birthday in August 2018, he reflected: "I come from a family of people who live to be a 100. Why should I think about dying when there are still so many questions in life that have remained unanswered?"


DW Editor and reporter Louisa Schaefer smiling into the camera.
Louisa Schaefer Culture editor and reporter based in Cologne/Bonn, originally from the US