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Enrico Astori dies at 83
Enrico Astori and the artist Nanda Vigo. Photo courtesy of Emilio Tremolada

Co-founder of Italian design company Driade Enrico Astori dies at 83

Enrico Astori, co-founder of Italian design brand Driade, has passed away at the age of 83.

Astori, who founded Driade with his wife Adelaide Acerbi and his sister Antonia Astori in 1968, died on Sunday 17 May 2020. His friend the designer and artist Nanda Vigo died on the same day, also aged 83.

"We have lost another great character of the Milan design world, and a dear friend," said the architect David Chipperfield.

"Enrico Astori embodied the unique combination of culture and enterprise that was at the heart of the Milan design world. Along with Adelaide and Antonia, he created one of the most unique companies based totally around his instincts, his intelligence, his courage and his friendships," added Chipperfield.

"I was lucky to be included in the group of people that he surrounded himself with, who he trusted, inspired and entertained with great joy and generosity."

Enrico Astori
Enrico Astori has died age 83. Photo courtesy of Driade

Known for its eclectic and contemporary furniture and homeware, Driade made its name producing groovy, sculptural designs created by Antonia, later collaborating with names such as Philippe Stark and Ron Arad.

"I came up with the idea to found Driade in 1968," Enrico Astori told the filmmaker Emilio Tremolada.

"I dealt with the company policy and made management decisions. Antonia's job was to design products. From the outset, Adelaide dealt with the graphic design, communication and public relations."

Tremolada produced a film, L'Adelaide, about Acerbi's work as a graphic designer.

"When he told you about his vision, it was very easy to get lost and be enraptured by his projects, which for a few moments became yours," said his nephew Matteo De Ponti in a eulogy published in La Republica.

Enrico Astori dies at 83
Nemo, the chair that Fabio Novembre designed for Driade in 2010

De Ponti, who co-founded design brand Colé Italia with Laura Macagno, remembered his uncle as a consummate showman and creative.

"When he organised the birthday parties for his daughters together with the colourful aunt Adelaide, it was every time a surprise: phantasmagorical cakes designed by artists," De Ponti remembers.

"Disguises with exotic masks designed for the occasion; rubber aprons and DIY sets to give vent to children's fantasies; the floor of the house (of the whole house I assure you!) covered by twenty centimetres of polystyrene, transforming the apartment into a snowy landscape," wrote Astori's nephew.

"The fact that the polystyrene then invaded the stairwell of the building for weeks did not matter, as long as the show was great. How he kept the neighbours at bay is not yet known to me."

Enrico Astori dies at 83
The Costes armchair designed by Philippe Starck in 1984

Under Enrico Astori's tenure, Driade collaborated with numerous big names in design, including Patricia Urquiola, Fabio Novembre, Tokujin Yoshioka and Philippe Starck. It was Astori's job to bring each individual talent's vision in line with the brand's.

Memorable pieces include Starck's three-legged Costes chair from 1984, Arad's 2007 Clover armchair, and Nemo, a chair shaped like a giant hollow mask designed by Novembre in 2010.

MT3, the rocking chair designed by Ron Arad for Driade, won the Compasso d'Oro award for industrial design in 2008.

In 2013, Driade became a part of the ItalianCreationGroup, and David Chipperfield was made artistic director of Driade. In his time in the role, Chipperfield designed the new Driade showroom in Milan.

CEO of Driade Guiseppe Di Nuccio with the brand's art director Fabio Novembre. Photo by Settimio Benedusi

In 2019, Fabio Novembre was announced as the new art director. An Italian architect and designer, Novembre was the "ideal person to capture the energy" of the brand, said CEO Giuseppe Di Nuccio, and continue Astori's legacy.

"In paying tribute to his passion and creative flair, his continuous aesthetic research, unconventional vision and eclecticism, Driade continues its unique story, a journey whose path Enrico Astori has traced," Di Nuccio told Dezeen.