Gilco, il design della leggerezza ( Designing Lightness)


Serena Omodeo Salè


It is not a coincidence that the year, 2017, marks the 70th anniversary of both Ferrari and the historic Gilco brand. It’s the natural consequence of a joint all-Italian piece of history, one that saw the two enterprises start together and tightly cooperate for many years.

It was 1947 when Gilberto Colombo set up his operations to design and develop new ground-breaking, ultra-light car frames, drawing on his precious experience, especially his work with the aviation industry.

Among further applications, he also started producing rational tubular furniture, as previously produced by his father’s company, on Bauhaus designs, since the 1930’s.

While Enzo Ferrari was turning his machine tool production business into a racing car development firm, thus launching the Ferrari brand, Gilberto Colombo, after transforming his GC Automotive Application unit into Glico Autotelai (Gilco car frames), founded the Gilco brand.

Gilco (obviously an acronym for Gilberto Colombo) has since signed an incredible series of innovative ideas that revolutionised quite a few of the basic concepts on which racing car development was based. His new sophisticated design for industrial production gave a great impulse to some then uprising Italian companies that are still among the most important worldwide today.

Among these, on top of major car brands like Ferrari, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Lancia,  Zagato and more, are the most important bicycle companies: Ernesto Colnago, Columbus and Cinelli; and nautical companies: Cantieri Folli and Lillia, whose most valued, world championship winning Star sailboats were designed by Gilberto Colombo. On top of all that, interesting architectural designs, and, obviously, tubular furniture.

Today Gilco is a historical brand, strong of a prestigious archive of original designs, but also engaged in building the future. An important part of the legacy of Gilberto Colombo, on top of said archive, is Trafiltubi, the company he founded to produce super-high-performance tubes aimed at extreme applications and whose enduring high-quality production bears witness to its motto: “il tubo non tradisce mai”. (a tube will never let you down).