To give increased strength and reduced weight, Colombo began experimenting with ‘butted’ tubes – with variable wall thickness along their length. Three years later, in 1930, Angelo Luigi created the brand name ‘Columbus’, which was initially only associated with tubular chromed-steel furniture. After an initial trial period, in which Columbus exhibited at the VI Triennale in Milan, Angelo Luigi obtained exclusivity of supply to EMBRU for the production of Marcel Breuer’s iconic furniture designs. Shortly afterwards, Columbus furniture was in high demand – for offices, universities and schools as well as homes. The best rationalist architects of the time – Figini, Pollini, Terragni, Pagano, Pucci, Faccioli – crafted designs for Columbus, bringing innovation to the furniture industry and further reinforcing the reputation of Columbus as leaders in modernist design.
In 1919, as Europe emerged from the ashes of the Great War, a twenty-seven year old Angelo Luigi ‘A.L.’ Colombo signed the lease on a small factory and so began the production of steel tubes. With demand for bicycles running high, their makers were amongst his first customers – Edoardo Bianchi, Umberto Dei, Atala, Giovanni Maino. With his tubing well-proven in the bicycle industry, Angelo Luigi saw strength in creativity and diversity and was soon supplying material for the tubular frames of seaplanes and road vehicles, as well as for furniture and ski-poles. Italy was at the forefront of aviation in the 1920s, and Colombo enjoyed a strong relationship with Caproni, manufacturing the tubing that formed the backbone of their famous aircraft. In 1933 Colombo became part of aviation history, with De Pinedo and Balbo’s transatlantic planes having airframes constructed from Colombo tubing – the same tubing that was, at that time, used to fabricate race-winning Moto Guzzi motorcycle chassis.