The Coolector loves the fifties for so many reasons. It saw; the discovery of DNA structure, the birth of Kevin Costner, General Charles de Gaulle becoming president of France, the first Burger King opening in Miami, Florida…..good, good times. But it has to be the post-war recovery, which shone an exuberant and positive light upon design and technology, that The Coolector adores most. During this period, the influence from a time of ground breaking and audacious movements in science and space exploration brought new visions and concepts in product design. I’m sure our loyal fan base of product, design and art enthusiasts will be familiar with many home to the UK and America, but what of those elsewhere, like Germany, Mexico, India or Italy…..what did fifties design and technology treat them to?

Well, had you been Italian, and had it been possible, then it would have been fitting to have watched the 1957 launch of Russia’s Sputnik 1 on this equally outlandish and futuristic Italian Television, the Phonola Marziano. Marziano, meaning ‘Martian’, was launched in 1956, and was of alien design and function.

At a time when Italian TV broadcast was barely out of diapers, the future Italian TV junkie would have been forgiven in thinking this device to be stolen from the shed of a Russian cosmonaut. At just over 43 centimeters wide and 64 centimeters tall, made of wood, metal, plastic and glass, it was the concept of designers Dario Montagni, Cesare Buttè and Sergio Berizzi.

Manufactured by Fimi (Fabbrica italiana materiali isolanti), it really did reflect the sleek, aerodynamic and symmetrical design style of the era. But what really made the Marziano a cut above the few was the separation of its user controls from the screen housing, by placing them in the box plinth. Nothing exciting? Well it sure was then.

The Marziano saw 5 years worth of manufacture, but today only a few survive, one can be seen on display at the MILS – Museo delle Industrie e del Lavoro del Saronnese in Lombardy, Italy and another at the MoMa in New York. If you’re not planning a trip to Italy or New York soon, you can always feast your eyes on our photos below:


See it over at Italian Ways.

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