Italian designer Gastone Rinaldi was born in 1920 in Padua, Italy. His father, Mario Rinaldi, was the founder of the metal furniture manufacturer RIMA. Established in 1916, Rinaldi and his brother Giorgio eventually gained control of the company in 1948.
In the postwar era, under Rinaldi’s leadership, RIMA quickly became a leading brand for Italian homes. Notable designs include the DU9, DU10, and DU11 Chairs (all 1951 for the Hospital Section of Milan’s IX Triennale), the sculptural DU43 Lounge Chair (1953), the DU30 Chair (1954, Compasso d’Oro), the DU41 Armchair (1957, Silver Medal at XI Triennale), and the Sabrina Chair (1970s). In 1956, RIMA began producing sofas with metal structures that featured fold-down mechanisms. The most well-known example is the avant-garde Saturno Sofa (c. 1958), which is part of the permanent collection at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
In 1974, due to strife within the company, Rinaldi left RIMA and established Thema in Limena. Both the tubular steel cantilevered Arianna Armchair (1978-9) and the Dafne Chair (1978) received nominations for Compasso d’Oros in 1981. Thema closed in 1989.
Over the course of his career, Rinaldi collaborated with many renowned Italian designers, including Franco Albini, Franco Campo and Carlo Graffi, Michele De Lucchi, Ignazio Gardella, Carlo Mollino, Ico Parisi, Gio Ponti, Alberto Rosselli, Ettore Sottsass, and Marco Zanuso. Notably, Rinaldi designed armchairs for the Piccolo Theater in Milan (1998) in collaboration with Zanuso and designed chairs for the Molinette Hospital in Turin in collaboration with Mollino. Ponti’s architectural magazine Domus often published Rinaldi’s designs.
In addition to being a talented designer, Rinaldi also played soccer for AC Padua, Cremonese, and AC Udinese in the 1940s, and he was an amature racecar driver, participating in Italy’s legendary Mille Miglia (Thousand Mile race).
Rinaldi passed away in Padua in 2006. In 2015, the exhibition RIMA: Ricerca e Stile was held at the Cigola Fenaroli Valotti palace in Brescia.
Although he is not as widely-known as many of his contemporaries, Rinaldi’s designs—many of which were produced in limited quantities—are coveted today by high-end collectors.