A singular figure in the panorama of Italian design of the last thirty years, Rodolfo Bonetto (1929-1991), abandoned a successful career as a jazz drummer with the famous “Italian Sextet” to dedicate himself to the new profession.
Self-taught, a feature not common on the Italian scene, he was so oriented toward design practice as to provide a considerable contribution to the teaching of industrial design at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm, and later at the ISIA in Rome.
Endowed with great talent and taste as well as an ability in technical drawing, he began working as a collaborator for the Veglia Borletti, drawing instruments for cars (a great passion: from those years come the first sketches of bodies for Vignale, Viotti and Boneschi). He then went on to work in many different industrial fields, those in which one would not normally consider – essential – the intervention of the designer: designing appliances, clocks, telephones, electronic computers, ski boots, surgical lasers, machine tools, lamps…
Of all these types, it was always the technical component that moved him most, a peculiarity that distinguishes him from the majority of Italian designers, who are traditionally closer to the world of furnishings. His relationship with Olivetti was the most intense and professionally stimulating: for the headquarters in Ivrea, he designed complex machine tools that modified the appearance of factory environment. Equally important was the collaboration with Fiat, for whom he drew many successful car interiors and which are today the historical heritage of the brand Bonetto Design.
He was awarded eight Golden Compasses, the last of which to his professional career. He was twice President of ADI (Industrial Design Association) and president of the Icsid (International Council of Societies of Industrial Design). He s recognized as one of the founding fathers of Italian design.