Maddalena de Padova, an Italian entrepreneur and founder of furniture company De Padova, has died aged 88.
De Padova and husband Fernando founded their eponymous brand in the 1950s when they began importing Scandinavian furniture and objects to sell at their Milan store.
While on a trip to Basel in the 1960s, she discovered the iconic Wire Chair by Charles and Ray Eames and a few months later obtained a licence from Herman Miller to manufacture the Eames' products in Italy.
"The search for something new and modern was the energy that powered and steered Maddalena and Fernando towards a different way of living," said the company in a statement.
"Experimenting her instincts first hand, following her innate curiosity spiced with a pinch of risk, has always been the fire that ignited her choices."
Widowed in 1967, De Padova later ran the company herself, supervising production and distribution. Around this time, Italian designer Vico Magistretti began his long-standing collaboration with the company when he designed a collection of office furniture.
In the 1980s, the company abandoned its relationship with Herman Miller and launched its own Edizioni De Padova trademark.
"The designers from which she bought and re-sold furniture elements and accessories, were also her personal friends and mentors in taste and beauty that she then, in turn, spread from Milan to the rest of Italy," said the company.
"In doing this, she founded an innovative style of what should surround our daily lives as well as an original way of communicating it. "
Maddalena De Padova's services to the industry were recognised in 2004 when she was awarded the prestigious Compasso d'Oro award.
The De Padova company was acquired in 2015 by luxury Italian kitchen and bathroom brand Boffi, when it exchanged 7.5 per cent of its shares for 100 per cent ownership of De Padova.
In an interview with Dezeen, Boffi's CEO Roberto Gavazzi said De Padova had suffered financially as a result of ongoing problems with the Italian economy, but that its products still had appeal for a wider market – particularly in the US, where Boffi is hoping to expand its business.
Maddalena leaves behind two children, Valeria and Luca, who jointly run the company.