Cesare Leonardi (Modena, 1935) enrolled at the Faculty of Architecture in Florence in 1956, where he followed the courses of Adalberto Libera, Ludovico Quaroni and Leonardo Savioli, under whom he graduated in 1970. From 1963 to 1983 he lead a studio in Modena with Franca Stagi; together they would deal with industrial design, architecture and the planning of green areas. From 1983 Leonardi set out on an independent professional path revolving around experimentation in the field of design and urbanism.

Emblematic of Leonardi's activities is his twenty year "Alberi" (trees) study, taking concrete shape in the creation of parks and a concept of the city based on a balance between people and nature. Another design example was the fame he achieved for industrial furniture in the 1960s and 1970s, with his Dondolo and Nastro chairs. This was followed by a line of modular furniture created for himself in his own workshop, the "Solidi" (Solids), a reaction to a trend that is currently influencing the market, trades, and the idea of design itself.

Leonardi's Alberi and Solidi represent the two main nodes around which the School is organized. On different but complimentary scales, they provide participants with a concrete field of application and a potential interpretative key for contemporary design dynamics.