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Giuseppe Zambonini papers

Identifier: KA-0130-01


Giuseppe Zambonini (1942-1990) was an Italian-born and New York-based architect, interior designer, theater director, and teacher. This collection contains materials pertaining to Zambonini’s architectural and design career, as well as items related to his tenure as dean of the New York School of Interior Design, founder and head of the Open Atelier of Design, and director of the architecture program at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Dating primarily from the 1960s through the late-1980s, materials in the collection include sketches, drawings, plans, and blueprints of Zambonini’s architecture and interior design projects, as well as photographs of the building sites and finished work. Also included are correspondence, photographs, and printed material related to his teaching and administrative career. Zambonini’s work as a theater producer and director in Italy is represented by photographs, scripts, audio, and a variety of posters and programs. Finally, the collection contains a small selection of Zambonini’s writings and lectures.


  • 1949 - 2013



35.5 Cubic Feet (7 boxes; 7 oversize boxes; 8 map case drawers; 12 rolled items; 2 oversize folders; 100 audio cassettes)

Language of Materials



Scope and Contents

Through a range of materials primarily from the 1960s through the 1980s, this collection illuminates the work, philosophy, and aesthetic development of Giuseppe Zambonini, covering his work at university and early collaborations as director and producer of experimental and politcal theater in Venice, Italy, to his career as a designer and teacher after moving to the United States. Items of note include Zambonini's thesis work with architect Carlo Scarpa; blueprints of Scarpa's work; photographs, posters, and film documenting Zambonini's participation in the intersecting experimental theater and political scenes in northern Italy and France; papers from his position as academic dean at the New York School of Interior Design; and a wealth of materials from the Open Atelier of Design, the school he founded and led. Especially noteworthy among Open Atelier materials are audio recordings of visiting lecturers, as well as interviews, lectures, and classes led by Zambonini. Zambonini's residential design work is represented by original plans and drawings, photographs, and blueprints. The collection is comprised of an array of formats, ranging from posters, drawings, plans, blueprints, slides, photographs, manuscripts, publications, 16mm film, audio recordings, and printed materials.

Organized into seven series, the collection contains material related to Zambonini’s architectural and interior design projects, as well as his work as a teacher and administrator at architecture schools and design institutes.

The first series is composed primarily of biographical material. This includes items related to Zambonini’s teaching, such as a teaching portfolio and photographs and slides that accompanied his lectures. This series also contains a large amount of audio and visual material, including slides and photographs of buildings, cities, and landscapes, film, and audio reels. Also included in the series are items related to Zambonini’s study of the work of his teacher and mentor, the architect and designer Carlo Scarpa.

The second series consists of correspondence, photographs, and printed material related to Zambonini’s tenure as a teacher and academic dean of the New York School of Interior Design from the early 1970s until 1977. Also included are typescript drafts of Zambonini’s graduation speeches.

In 1977 Zambonini helped to found the Open Atelier of Architecture and Design (later changed to the Open Atelier of Design). The third series contains correspondence, photographs of classes and student work, and printed material (brochures and flyers) related to this institution. There are also a large number of audio recordings of the OAD Lecture Series.

Material relating to Zambonini’s design and architecture projects can be found in the fourth series, including drawings, sketches, plans, and blueprints, as well as photographs of models, site plans, and completed projects. An additional series contains similar materials relating to design projects by others, including Zambonini’s wife, interior designer Claudia Zambonini.

The sixth series contains items from Zambonini’s work as a theater producer and director. Along with scripts, production notes, and photographs, the series includes audio recordings and films of individual productions and rehearsals, as well as posters and flyers.

Finally, the collection contains a small series of some of Zambonini’s writings, including drafts and notes for lectures and presentations, articles in Perspecta and Interiors, interviews about NYSID and OAD, and his thesis on the architecture of Verona, Italy.

Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research use. Please contact for appointment.

Use Restrictions

To publish images of material from this collection, permission must be obtained in writing from the New School Archives and Special Collections. Please contact:

Selected Curriculum Vitae

Built Projects

Residential loft in Tribeca (Worth St.), New York City
Residential loft in Chelsea (Rob Mounsey loft), New York City
Residential Loft in Greenwich Village (Briggs loft, 686 Broadway), New York City
Residential loft and Open Atelier of Design studios and offices, West 29th St., New York City
Media Room, Hirsch Apartment on Riverside Drive, New York City
Traces of Lattimore (aka Dingman's Ferry and House on a Ridge) in Delaware Township, Pennsylvania, (Zambonini’s only free-standing structure)

Exhibitions (Curated/Designed by Zambonini)

Open Atelier of Design, Carlo Scarpa, Drawing and Photographs, co-curated with Livio Dimitriu and Hiroyuki Toyoda; co-sponsored by The New York Institute of Technology. This was the first exhibition devoted to Carlo Scarpa in the United States. The materials were also exhibited at the Italian Cultural Institute (NYC 1985) and the University of Cincinnati (1985).
Open Atelier of Design, The Isometrics of Alberto Sartoris, co-curated with Livio Dimitriu.
Open Atelier of Design, Substitute Places: Douglas Cooper

Public Lectures (partial list)

1977 May 11
“Space as Proof of Existence,” Institute For Architecture and Urban Studies, New York.
1978 Feb 16
“The Image Notebook, Analysis and Methods,” Open Atelier of Design
1978 May 18
“The Make-up of the Image: Summary and Discussion,” Open Atelier of Design
1979 Apr 11
“Philosophies of Furniture,” Institute For Architecture and urban Studies, New York“Public Spaces in Medieval Italy”, March 25, 1982, OAD
1982 Mar 25
“Public Spaces in Medieval Italy," Open Atelier of Design

Articles by Zambonini

"Process and Theme in the Work of Carlo Scarpa," Perspecta 20, Yale University.
“Notes for a Theory of Making In A Time of Necessity,” Perspecta 24, Yale University.

Exhibitions (about Zambonini and his work)

Faculty Exhibition, Graduate School of Architecture, Yale University
Fall 1985
Three New York Firms: OAD, Steven Holl, UKZ, Graduate School of Architecture, Columbia University
1986 Mar 9-Apr 20
Emerging Voices: Young Architects and Their Work, The Architectural League
Faculty Exhibition, Graduate School of Architecture, Yale University
Gullans International, Original Drawings
IDC NY, New York Architects (travelling, Europe and U.S.)
Fall 2013
Every Thought Flies: Launching the Zambonini Archive, School of Constructed Environments, Parsons The New School for Design (Robert Kirkbride, curator)

Films and Theatrical productions that include Zambonini projects

XX/XY: film, written and directed by Austin Chick, produced by Natural Nylon. Starring Mark Ruffalo, Kathleen Robertson, Maya Stange. Nominated for Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival. Features apartment designed by Zambonini at 12 West 29th St., NY NY, with furniture by Zambonini’s last student, Robert Kirkbride.
The Upside Down House: play by Edward Henwood, inspired by Zambonini’s taped lecture, “On Form.” Directed by Robert Perillo, produced by Brooke Alexander Productions. Play read at The Player’s Club (Gramercy Park, NY, March 2012); full dress rehearsal (September 2011)
A Picture of You: film, directed by J.P. Chan, produced by Robert Chang and Yasmine Gomez. Features the House at Dingman’s Ferry, Pennsylvania.

Publications (about or including Zambonini)

Living in One Room, Jon Naar and Molly Siple, Random House, 1976 (featuring Zambonini’s Coca Cola Apartment on West 12th Street)
1978 Sep
1979 Jun 14
“A Design Rebel Gathers Disciples,” Suzanne Slesin, New York Times, Home Section
1981 Sep
Progressive Architecture
1982 Oct
1982 Nov 18
“Partial Walls: New Ways to Shape Space,” Carol Vogel, New York Times, Home Section
GA 13 (Global Architecture)
New York Times Book of Details
SD 22 (Space Design), Tokyo, Japan
Drawing Interior Architecture, Whitney Library of Design, N.Y.
1984 Apr 5
“Two Manhattan Apartments Turn Architecture Outside In,” Joseph Giovannini, New York Times, Home Section
1985 Apr 18
“New Built-In Designs Do More Than Add Space,” Joseph Giovannini, New York Times, Home SectionNew York Times, Arts Section, February 22, 1985, “Architecture: 3 Bright Spots,” Paul GoldbergerNew York Times, Home Section, February 19, 1987, “The Glow of Wood Paneling: Designers Explore Its Varied Uses,” Joseph GiovanniniThe Making of Architecture, The Harvard Architecture Review, 1989, published by Rizzoli International Publications, Inc.
1985 Feb 22
“Architecture: 3 Bright Spots,” Paul Goldberger, New York Times, Arts Section
1987 Feb 19
“The Glow of Wood Paneling: Designers Explore Its Varied Uses,” Joseph Giovannini, New York Times, Home Section
"The Making of Architecture," The Harvard Architecture Review, published by Rizzoli International Publications, Inc.

Biographical note

Giuseppe Zambonini (1942-1990), was born in Viterbo, Italy. As an adolescent, he moved to Verona with his family. After secondary school, Zambonini studied architecture at the University of Florence, working with Leonardo Benevolo and Leonardo Ricci. After graduation, he attended the Istituto Universitario di Architettura in Venice, where he studied with Carlo Scarpa, who directed his thesis on the architectural history of Verona. Other influential professors included Carlo Aymonino, Ignazio Gardella, and Aldo Rossi. Zambonini received his diploma in 1971. While at the university, Zambonini collaborated with the experimental theater company at Ca’ Foscari, University of Venice, directing plays that were performed widely in northeastern Italy, and that won awards at several European festivals. In 1970, Zambonini became artistic and technical director of the Teatro Romanao in Verona, where he was responsible for some sixty performances each summer.

Theater brought Zambonini to the United States in late 1971, to take up an appointment at the Kennedy Center. After budget cuts eliminated the position, Zambonini accepted a teaching position at the New York School of Interior Design (NYSID) in New York City. In 1973, Zambonini became NYSID’s academic dean, in which position he revised the curriculum and secured state accreditation for an undergraduate degree program. He left NYSID in 1977 to found the Open Atelier of Design (initially the Open Atelier of Design and Architecture). The OAD's philosophy combined a design school with an apprentice program and working design studio, seeking to balance practice and application with theory and history. Through the Open Atelier, Zambonini merged interior design, architecture, industrial design and theater, emphasizing process exploration through drawing and full-scale making. In his widely published redesign of industrial loft spaces, Zambonini employed partial walls and “skirts” reminiscent of stage sets, using natural light and flexible spatial arrangements that enabled the coherent coexistence of new and old. Instructors and lecturers at the Open Atelier included Marco Frascari, Michael Kalil, George Ranalli, Lauretta Vinciarelli, Peter Eisenman, Richard Serra, Steven Holl, Jean Gardner, and Allan Wexler, among others.

In 1982, Zambonini was included in the first group of the New York Architecture League’s Emerging Voices. Also in 1982, Zambonini paid tribute to his mentor, Carlos Scarpa, by organizing the first U.S. exhibition devoted to the architect's work, and, in 1985, he led an AIA-sponsored study tour of Scarpa’s buildings in Italy. While leading the OAD, Zambonini also taught at the Yale Graduate School of Architecture, from 1981 through 1988; at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, from 1985 through 1988; and frequently served as guest critic at universities across the U.S. In the summer of 1988, Zambonini accepted an appointment as director of the architecture program at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. On July 7, 1990, Zambonini accidentally choked to death at his home in Atlanta. Survivors include his wife, Claudia Zambonini, their daughter, Donata, a brother, and two sisters.

Source for biography: Kenneth Henwood, Robert Kirkbride, Claudia Zambonini


This collection is organized into 7 series, arranged alphabetically by subject, project title, and content: I.Biographical; 2. New York School of Interior Design; 3. Open Atelier of Design; 4. Projects; 5. Projects by others; VI.Theater; VII.Writings.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated in 2013 by Claudia Zambonini, Melissa Grey, and Robert Kirkbride.

Related Materials

The papers of Michael Kalil (KA.0119.01), one of the co-founders of the Open Atelier of Design, are held by the New School Archives.

Guide to the Giuseppe Zambonini papers
Aaron W. Winslow
May 9, 2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • September 26, 2018: New School Archives staff added links to Reliquary photographs, films and audio recordings, and updated several instances.