Gae Aulenti was born in Palazzolo della Stella -Udine- in 1927.
After graduating from the Milan Polytechnic in 1954, she entered the editorial staff of “Casabella-Continuità”.
After specialising in interior design (furnishings for private dwellings and stores), during the Sixties she was among the protagonists of the Neo-Liberty architectural movement, to which she contributed with her Sgarsul rocking chair (1962) and “Locus Solus” armchair (1964), both made by Poltronova.
Her collection of chairs and armchairs designed for Knoll, the April series (1964) for Zanotta, or the Pipistrello lamps (1964) for Martinelli Luce and Parola lamp (1980) together with P. Castiglioni, are all set apart from the rest thanks to their dialectics, half-way between rigid and soft.
Her collaboration with Olivetti dates back to 1966, and in 1968 with Fiat, for whom she organised many stands at various Motor Shows in Turin and Geneva.
Her most famous architectural works include the refurbishment of the Musée d’Orsay (completed in 1986, for which she was awarded the Legion d’Honneur), the design of the Musée National d’Art Moderne at the Centre G. Pompidou in Paris (begun in 1982) and of Palazzo Grassi in Venice (1985).
In 1992, she designed the Italian Pavilion at the Expo world fair in Seville, in collaboration with Piero Castiglione and with the lighting technology consultancy of iGuzzini.
Again, together with Piero Castiglioni and with the lighting technology consultancy of iGuzzini, she completed the following projects: between 1997-1999, she conducted the refurbishment of the Quirinal Stables in Rome, and in 2000 she took care of the refurbishment of the stables at the Villa Menafoglio Litta Panza di Biumo (belonging to the Fund for the Italian Environment and home of the largest private Italian collection of contemporary art), transforming it into an exhibition area.
Gae Aulenti began working with iGuzzini Illuminazine in 1985, when she designed a lighting system for Palazzo Grassi in Venice, the Cestello system.
She then went on to elaborate the industrialisation process of this lighting system, together with the company.
The Cestello system was conceived especially to meet exhibition requirements and has been used by Gae Aulenti in many of the museum settings she designed.
In 2001, she developed a miniaturised version of the Cestello for SirrahiGuzzini, designed for application within the home.