Sergio Pininfarina, right: Advertising from 1930
Sergio Pininfarina, right: Advertising from 1930
Mobility in its most beautiful Form
From small, elite body shop to international group for automobile design: the history of Pininfarina, the family-owned company in Turin, is indeed unusual.
A Unique Merging of Aesthetics and Construction
To this day, automobile design and the production of small production series are given the highest priority at Pininfarina. Beyond that, the design company designs utility vehicles, airplanes, yachts, furniture and accessories. Battista Pinin Farina, the founder of the company, understood design as a professional business early on. He saw himself as a creator and, at the same time, an engineer of new forms. “Pininfarina always succeeds in setting standards for the industry while simultaneously adding economic plausibility to the work by connecting construction and aesthetics,” said Professor Dr. Peter Zec about this year’s winning team. The continuous success is unparalleled in the world of design. Therefore, the decision was made in favor of the design team Pininfarina, which is still a family-owned and -operated company today.
Battista Farina was born the tenth of eleven children at the end of the 19th century; hence, the nickname “Pinin”, the Piedmont expression for “the little one”. He trained in his brother Giovanni’s coachwork shop and traveled to America in 1921 in order to study the assembly lines of the Ford motor works in Detroit. In 1930, he founded S.A. Carozzeria Pinin Farina and gained acclaim as a car body constructor. Among others, he created the Alfa Romeo Pescara, the Lancia Aprilia Aerodinamica and the Cisitalia 202 GT, which, with its bumpers integrated into the car body, was so unusual that it would soon become the first car added to the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Pinin Farina was dedicated to the design and development of individual models that could be taken over by large manufacturers. Since the beginning, the highest technological and aesthetic standards have been the thread running through the corporate history: Pinin Farina proved that the aesthetic component is also important for mass production, and he became the co-founder of Italian automobile design. In the end, the reputation of the designs became so immense that Italy’s former President, Giovanni Gronchi, acknowledged the nickname “Pinin” via a decree and permitted Farina to change his last name to Pininfarina.
A Tradition of Style
In 1950 Sergio Pininfarina, Battista’s son, joined the company, accompanied the first larger in-house production – the Alfa Romeo Giulietta with an edition of 27,000 – and physically separated the design of the automobiles from the production. To this day, the Pininfarina principle of preserving the distance between the creative process and the production is maintained. In 1957, Sergio Pininfarina took over the management of the company. Other design sectors alongside automobile design were developed and Pininfarina Extra was founded. The subsidiary designs products like lamps, furniture and accessories. Today, the entire group employs approximately 2,500 people and offers clients design development services as well as the production of complete automobiles or parts. Chuck Jordan, the former chief designer of General Motors, says about Sergio Pininfarina: “As the conductor of a big orchestra, Sergio determines the tempo, rhythm and interpretation. His philosophy and personality are both reflected in every Pininfarina creation, and this confirms the invariable quality of his company’s designs”.
1. The “Cisitalia 202 GT” became the first car to be included in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1954
2. Concept car “Metrocubo”, 1999: a city car with hybrid drive, whose extremely low floor plate enables the comfortable
seating of 5 people on a length of 2.5 meters
3. Ferrari, 2000
Outstanding Design as a Thread
An equally high level of design has characterized the models of the traditional company throughout the years. Pininfarina is still active as an independent design forge for various international automobile manufacturers. Among them are Peugeot, Lancia, Fiat, Nash, Alfa Romeo, General Motors, Bentley, Rolls Royce, Honda, Hyundai, Hafei, Mitsubishi and Daewoo.
However, Pininfarina is first and foremost associated with Ferrari. The first encounter between Battista Pinin Farina and Enzo Ferrari in 1951 has today, in a sense, become legendary. They met on neutral grounds, cautiously got closer and, according to Battista Pinin Farina’s memoirs, found that “each shared a certain down-to-earth opinion that things should not be done by halves”. Later, Enzo Ferrari remarked about the cooperation: “My marriage with Pinin Farina will last a long time. It has already lasted for 15 years now. I remember Pinin’s surprised look when I opened up to him, and how surprised I was when he opened up to me. All of a sudden it became clear that one of us was looking at a beautiful and famous woman to dress, and the other was looking at a world-class tailor to have the clothes made”. Altogether, more than 80 models for Ferrari have been developed, all of them setting standards and looking for their equals.
1. Sergio Pininfarina was represented by his son Paolo during the reception of the “Radius” on July 5, 2004
2. Pininfarina Extra designs kitchen appliances, among other things: Lavazza Blue, 2004
Exploring the Feasible
Over the decades, more than 60 innovative concept cars and prototypes have been designed, accompanying the technological and aesthetic development of the automobile, including such cars that explored the limits of forms, technical solutions and materials – for example, the “Ethos” from 1992, the first concept car in the “Ethos” trilogy, a sportive and at the same time ecologically oriented spider, whose exhaust emissions approach zero, or the “Metrocubo” from 1999, a city car with hybrid drive and a lot of room.
Sergio Pininfarina was represented by his son Paolo at the reception of the red dot: design team of the year 2004 award on July 5, 2004. The Radius challenge cup was presented by last year’s winner, the Nokia design team.