ERBERTO CARBONI – Graphic Designer, Architect

(Parma, 1899 – Milan, 1984)

Erberto Carboni was born in Parma on November 22, 1899. After graduating with a Diploma in Architecture from the Academy of Fine Arts in his home town in 1923, he immediately began working as graphics illustrator, making sketches for the principal local chrome lithographic industries, including Zanlari and Zafferri. In 1932 he moved to Milan, where he began to contribute to the magazine L’ufficio moderno (Modern Office) edited by Guido Mazzali. Starting from the same year, he collaborated with the most prestigious Italian companies: Motta, Olivetti, Campari, Strega and Lagomarsino. As an architect he designed numerous showcases, shops, pavilions and salons for trade fairs and exhibitions and, for the Triennial Exhibit of 1935, he transformed the facade of Palazzo dell’Arte in Milan: a prestigious project which he had been commissioned by winning an important competition. His collaboration with Barilla began early on, in 1922, and after a sporadic collaboration in 1938, continued from 1952 until 1960 without interruption. In 1952 he won the ‘Golden Palm of Advertising’ for the Barilla campaign “Con pasta Barilla è sempre Domenica” (It’s always Sunday with Barilla pasta). In the early 1950s he carried out numerous prestigious projects for other important companies such as Bertolli, Pavesi, Crodo, Bourbon and Montecatini. He collaborated for many years with RAI-TV, for which he designed various pavilions at the Milan Fair and, starting in 1956, created its logo, test pattern and animated call signs. In addition to advertising graphics and book illustration, he also worked as a set designer for La Scala and for the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. Those who knew him have described him as an elegant man, highly cultured, intelligent and well mannered. In his later years his passion for ‘pure’ painting led him to intensify the artistic pictorial production that he had always continued. He exhibited his work Totem 36, a 6 meters high steel sculpture for the Venice Biennial International Exhibition, and held several personal exhibits at the Naviglio in Milan (1973) and the Cavallino in Venice (1972). In 1982 the City of Parma staged an important anthology exhibition of his work. He died in Milan in 1984 at the age of 85, after a career of rare intensity.

Gillo Dorfles


BIOLI Enzo, Mostra antologica di Erberto Carboni a Parma (Anthology exhibit of the works of Erberto Carboni in Parma). Parma, Silva for the City of Parma, 1982.
PIANTINI, Stefano (edited by), Erberto Carboni. Milan, Electa, 1985.
PRIARONE Giuseppe, entry on Adolfo Busi, in Grafica Pubblicitaria in Italia negli anni Trenta (Italian Advertising in the 1930s), Florence, Cantini, 1989, pp. 19-20.
Catalogo Bolaffi del Manifesto Italiano, Dizionario degli illustratori (Bolaffi Catalog of Italian Billboard Posters, Dictionary of illustrators), Turin, Bolaffi, 1995, pp. 46-47.
GONIZZI Giancarlo, Tra arte e pubblicità. Erberto Carboni e la comunicazione Barilla (1922-1960) (Between art and advertisement. Erberto Carboni and Barilla communication 1922-1960), in Malacoda, 81, Nov – Dec 1998, pp. 3-24.
BIANCHINO Gloria, Erberto Carboni dal Futurismo al Bauhaus (Erberto Carboni between Futurism and Bauhaus). Milan, Mazzotta, 1998.
COMUNE DI PARMA – ASSESSORATO ALLA CULTURA, Erberto Carboni dal Futurismo al Bauhaus, 2 (Erberto Carboni between Futurism and Bauhaus, 2). Parma, City of Parma, 1998.