Cesare (known as Joe) Colombo was born in Milan in 1930. Essentially self-taught, he attended the Academy in Brera and then the faculty of Architecture at the Politecnico in Milan for a few years. Before becoming a designer he worked as a painter, builder, car salesman (his passion for cars remained with him) and entrepreneur in the electrics field.
The technological utopia of Joe Colombo’s designs encompasses many of the hopes of the Sixties in Italy and Europe without becoming imprisoned by ideological restraints. He gave up painting to concentrate on design and in 1959 he had to take over his family firm which produced electrical appliances. There he experimented with new construction and production technology. In 1962 he set up his own interior and architecture design company producing innovative designs for furniture, lamps, glass, doorknobs, pipes, alarm clocks, wristwatches and kitchenware.