I am fascinated by Willy Rizzo’s career. He was born in Naples, Italy. After he moved to France with his mother in the 1930s, and his passion for photography began very early. Following World War II and the occupation of France, Rizzo was hired by Point de Vue and travelled to Tunisia to photograph the aftermath of the conflict in North Africa. Capturing the burned out husks of tanks set against low sunsets aroused the attention of Life, who bought his report.
In late 1948, Willy began an illustrious twenty-year career with Paris Match that would have him photograph some of the greatest names of the golden age of photojournalism. Rizzo enjoyed unparalleled access to the stars; Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren, Marilyn Monroe, Vivien Leigh, Audrey Hepburn, Jane Fonda, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire,Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso all found themselves in front of Rizzo’s lens. Willy photographed Marilyn Monroe in February 1962. He was one of the last photographers to take pictures of her.
Imagination and necessity launched Willy Rizzo into the world of furniture design. As a photographer of playboys and starlets, he had a ready-made customer base eager to build their living quarters around an ultra-modern Rizzo piece and items that remain as timeless as his images.
Rizzo’s original venture into furniture design began in Rome and took place during an often reported visit to a Roman hair salon on the Piazza di Spagna in 1966. By testing the hairdresser’s knowledge of local real estate agents, he ended up signing a six month lease on an abandoned commercial apartment, barely habitable and without running water. Rizzo quickly set about turning the empty office into a living space, complete with brown and gold walls and custom-designed sofas, coffee tables, consoles and hi-fi storage units. He completed the customised apartment, which acted as a template of sorts for the majority of his commissions to come.
Though never his intention to become a furniture designer, Rizzo’s friends, clients and contacts, many forming the upper crust of the fashion and film industries, fell in love with his creations and he was swamped with orders and requests. His pieces are coveted bu designers from all over the world and have been showcased at various museums including the Metropolitan. I personally own two of his cabinets and will have them forever-so very chic.
Creation Date: 1970
Materials: Lacquered Wood and Steel
Height: 29.53 in. (75 cm)
Creator: Willy Rizzo for Sabot
Length: 5 ft. 9.7 in. (177 cm)
Depth: 18.5 in. (47 cm)