By: Steven Heller
Federico Seneca (1891–1976) was among the most innovative Italian advertising graphic designers—and maybe, in my estimation, the most innovative. Born in Fano, he studied at Regio Istituto di Belle Arti of Urbino until 1911, then began making posters. During the First World War he joined the Italian alpine troops and later became a pilot. During this war he also met the poet and politician Gabriele D’Annunzio and developed a long friendship.
At the beginning of the 1920s, Seneca was hired by the candy company Perugina, where he was the supervisor of the advertising office for 12 years, and later when it merged with Buitoni in 1925, he did its identity, too. His association with Perugina lasted until 1933, at which time he opened his own advertising studio in Milan, working for Rayon, Cinzano, Talmone, Stipel and others. In 1936 he founded a plastics company that failed, and so reestablished his career as a graphic designer for BBB of Monza, Agip, ENI, Cinzano and Ramazzotti, where he worked as an advertising consultant from 1950 to 1958. He retired in 1969 and died 13 years later.