Cesare "Joe" Colombo was born in Milan on 31 July 1930. He studied painting at the Brera Academy of Fine Arts from 1948 to 1955 and later attended the faculty of architecture at the Milan Polytechnic, where he became friends with Sergio d'Angelo and Enrico Baj, with which in 1952 founded the Nuclear movement. In 1953, Colombo designed a jazz club at Santa Tecla. In 1956 he became part of the Mac Espace committee headed by Bruno Munari, while he worked on the design of a building located in Via Rosolino Pio in Milan.
After taking over the family company co-owned by his brother Gianni, Colombo started a series of experiments with reinforced plastic and other materials. He left the company in 1961 and opened a studio dedicated to architectural design. In 1962 he created the lamp "Acrilica" for O-Luce, in 1963 the "Combi-Center" and "Minikitchen". In 1964 he began the production of the "Elda" chair. Colombo continued to design and create new objects, such as the "Spider" lamp in 1965 and the "Continental" bookcase. In 1967, the architect created the "Universal" plastic chair and in 1969 he developed one of the first unitary living concepts with the kitchen "Kitchenbox-block" and the house "Central Living Block".
In the last years of Colombo's career he designed the "Tube Chair" and "Multi Chair" armchairs. On July 31, 1971, at the age of 41, Joe Colombo died in his home in Milan. A year later his last works were presented at the MoMa in New York.