Rodrigo Rodriquez: Italian design worldwide

Rodrigo Rodriquez, the enlightened entrepreneur and manager who promoted Italian design worldwide, passed away

In all industrial sectors there are figures who are not widely known to the general public but hold key positions. They are authentic dei ex machina who make the fortune of some companies working out of the spotlight.

Rodrigo Rodriquez was one of them. Graduated in Law, holding an MBA from IPSOA in Turin, Rodrigo Rodriquez was among the first entrepreneurs who applied to the furniture sector the management approach of a major industry. He debuted in the design world in 1969, with C&B Italia, of which he was General Manager until 1972. In 1973 he joined Cassina as General Manager, a position he held until 1980, when he became Vice President and CEO, until 1991. He was also closely related to the Cassina family as he married Adele, with whom he had four children. And this relationship may have played a role in the company’s evolution.

Rodrigo Rodriquez con Charlotte Perriand

When he was at the helm of Cassina, Rodrigo Rodriquez worked for the international expansion of the Brianza-based company, creating the conditions for it to dominate the American and Japanese markets. When he joined the company, in the early Seventies, 70% of Cassina’s turnover was represented by the domestic market and 30% by foreign market. At the beginning of the 1990s market shares were reversed. Moreover, by the end of the 1980s Rodriquez had already understood that Italian companies would have to develop new strategies if they wanted to successfully compete in the expanding international markets.

Read also Enrico Astori and Driade, a made in Italy story

Rodrigo Rodriquez with Mario Bellini and Andrea Branzi

The institutions and the European Common Market

Among the several positions he held during his long career, from 1986 to 1991, Rodrigo Rodriquez was the President of the UEA, Union Européenne de l’Ameublement, a federation gathering national associations of furniture manufacturers. This position probably helped him envision what the global market would become a few years later, with the birth of the European Common Market (1993) and the expansion of world trade.

Sistema Pianeta Ufficio, by Mario Bellini for Marcatrè. Ph: Gabriele Basilico

Rodriquez and office design

His passion for the office and work organization were the core of Marcatrè, the company specialized in office furniture founded by Rodriquez in the 1970s. The aim was to create office systems with architects who had previous experience in contemporary design, distributed using Cassina’s reputation. Pianeta Ufficio, the first project by Marcatrè, by Mario Bellini, also relied on a great photographer for communication, Gabriele Basilico.

Read also Enrico Astori and Driade, a made in Italy story

Sistema Pianeta Ufficio, by Mario Bellini for Marcatrè. Ph: Gabriele Basilico

To complete an extraordinary career, Rodrigo Rodriquez held many institutional positions. Before being President of FederlegnoArredo, from 1998 to 2002, he was also President of EIMU, Esposizione Internazionale di Mobili per Ufficio, in 1993 and 1995, and FEMB, Fédération Européenne Meubles Bureau, 1995/96. More recently he was Vice President of Flos from 1999 to 2014, and in 2016 he won the Compasso d’Oro Lifetime Achievement Award. At the time of his death, he was President of the Board of Directors of Material Connexion Italia and held many other positions.

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