As a revolutionary Italian architectural collective, Superstudio (active from 1966 to 1978) was a force to be reckoned with in the 20th century. By rejecting the consumerist norms of contemporary architecture, it encouraged viewers to think about what design and building can mean apart from the pursuit of luxury.
Superstudio's architects may have been more interested in theory than practice (they never actually built anything), but their groundbreaking work raised crucial problems and prompted significant shifts in the Italian design industry.
Both Adolfo Natalini and Cristiano Toraldo di Francia got their start in architecture at the University of Florence, and it was there that they conceived the idea for Superstudio.
In the late 1960s, they embarked on a mission to establish a conceptual collective devoted to the investigation of "anti-architecture," or ideas that eschewed the norms of contemporary architectural practice.
Some of their more major works include "The Continuous Monument: An Architectural Model for Total Urbanization," a collection of conceptual drawings (1969). To attain a more profound sense of harmony with the cosmos, the group behind this series imagined an architectural form that ringed the entire planet.
Roberto Magris, Gian Piero Frassinelli, Alessandro Magris, and Alessandro Poli joined Superstudio in the early 1970s.
Collectively, these talented architects envisioned psychedelic and futuristic futures for the built environment, and they depicted these visions in both film and visual media. Supersurface, developed in 1973 and consisting of commercial-length film clips, was one of the most influential film series produced by the collective, as it questioned the presentation of "modern" design at the Museum of Modern Art's "Italy: The New Domestic Landscape" exhibition the previous year.
The Superstudio architects had a European tour in 1973–1974 (called "Superstudio: Fragmente aus einem persönlinchen Museum") and an American tour in 1973–1975 (called "Sottsass & Superstudio: Mindscapes") to show off their conceptual works after they debuted at the Triennale di Milano.
Superstudio began to fall apart in the late 1970s, but its members kept showing their work far into the 1980s. In addition, their radical ideas were instrumental in shaping the future of Italian architecture for decades.
The 1966 Superarchitettura exhibition, co-organized by Archizoom and Superstudio, was highly influential because it provided a theoretical design framework and showcased design objects and prototypes with a heavy English pop influence.
The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Deutsches Architekturmuseum in Frankfurt, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the "Radical: Italian Design 1965-1985, The Dennis Freeman Collection." exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston all feature Superstudio's work today.