Ahead of the Curve

Luigi Colani has always been a man before his time. Born in Berlin in 1928, he established himself as a maverick in the fifties and sixties, dreaming up cars and cameras and chairs in melting shapes that could have come straight out of an acid trip. Derided by hard-core modernists, his protoplasmic sci-fi shapes—he calls them biodynamic—feel uncannily contemporary in today’s digital world. "Blobject" designer Karim Rashid claims Colani as a spiritual father.

Now Colani is getting his due in an exhibition at London’s Design Museum titled "Translating Nature," running March 3 to June 17. It highlights creations such as his sports cars for BMW and Ferrari; plans for a 4,000-seat jumbo jet and a sleeker, sexier space shuttle; and his Spherical Kitchen, a vision of future domestic life produced in 1968-71 for Poggenpohl. The prototype, pictured here, was inspired by a satellite. Noting the cosmos is full of round things, Colani has remarked, "Why should I join the straying masses who want to make everything angular?"