Giovanni Sacchi (1913–98)

Giovanni Sacchi was a maker of wooden models whose work had a profound influence on the design of consumer goods in the second half of the 20th century.

He was born in the industrial community of Sesto San Giovanni on the north-eastern side of Milan, and lived most of his life in that area. He learned his skills with wood as an apprentice pattern maker from the age of 12 in the Milan foundry of Ceresa e Boretti. He established his own workshop in 1948, and his models for many decades helped designers to refine their ideas and, with production engineers, to work out solutions to practical problems in transforming designs into products for mass markets. He worked for many prominent international companies including Fiat, IBM and Philips, and in the course of his career made some 25,000 models. He is perhaps most celebrated for his role in designing the Lettera 22 typewriter, but he also helped to develop the designs of television and radio sets, refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, sewing machines, cutlery, coffee pots, clocks and computers.

Sacchi’s workshop closed in 1998 through lack of a successor. His work has been honoured by exhibitions in galleries in many countries. The contents of his workshop and its archives are held by the Museum of Industry and Labour at Sesto San Giovanni.