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His long career began in the 1950s when he designed cars for companies including Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Volkswagen, and BMW. In 1957, he dropped his first name Lutz using the name Luigi. In the 1960s, he began designing furniture, and as of the 1970s, he expanded in numerous areas, ranging from household items such as ballpoint pens and television sets to uniforms and trucks and entire kitchens. A striking grand piano created by Colani, the Pegasus, is manufactured and sold by the Schimmel piano company.
His unconventional designs made him famous, not only in design circles, but also to the general public. He received numerous design awards, although his unconventional approach left him largely an outsider from the mainstream of industrial design