Born in Milan in 1905, Ignazio Gardella was the fifth generation of his family to work in architecture. After training as a civil engineer he studied architecture in Venice, travelling widely in the course of his studies and meeting Alvar Aalto.
Along with fellow architects, he helped to found the Italian modern movement, participating in CIAM and running the Congress' summer sessions in Venice from 1952 to 1956 with Franco Albini. He also served as a professor at the Istituto di Architettura in Venice from 1950 to 1975.
In tandem with his architectural practice, Gardella a variety of furniture and in 1947 he founded a company with fellow architect Luigi Caccia Dominioni in order to produce his designs to a high quality.
His best-known architectural projects include the Antituberculosis clinic and laboratory in Alessandria, the Casa alle Zattere in Venice, a dining room for the Olivetti company in Ivrea, and the Faculty of Architecture for Genoa University. He also worked with Aldo Rossi, Bruno Reichlin and Angelo Sibilla on the restoration and rebuilding of the Carlo Felice Theatre in Genoa.
His furniture designs include the charismatic and highly architectural Digamma armchair, designed in 1957 and now reissued by Santa & Cole.