Both an architect and a designer, Gae Aulenti is one of the very few women to have been successful in the international design scene. As a designer, Aulenti made her appearance on the fringes of the Neo-Liberty movement in the late 1950s. Her designs are reticent and elegant and often very unusual. In 1964 Gae Aulenti created "Solus 220", an armchair; for Martinelli Luce she designed "Pipistrello", a floor lamp, in 1967: both objects can be found in the Museum of Modern Art collection in New York.
She created numerous designer objects for Artemide (floor lamp "Oracolo"; table lamps "Pileno" and "Patrocolo"), Kartell (armchair "4794" - nominated for the Compasso d'Oro 1979), Fontana Arte (lamps "Bugia" and "Parola"; table "Lapsus"), Knoll (table "Jumbo", 1965; suite "Aulenti Collection", 1975), Poltrona donna(armchair "Sgarsul", 1962), Stilnovo (swivelling table lamp "Minibox"), Tecno (rattan armchair "TLINKIT", 1991), and Zanotta (coffee table "San Marco", 1984; folding chair "Tripolina" and "April"; table "San Marco", 1984; and "Cardine", 1983).
Gae Aulenti was acclaimed worldwide for her redesign of the Gare d'Orsay in Paris as the new home of the Musée d'Orsay (1980-1986). Between 1982 and 1985 she redesigned the exhibition rooms of the Centre Pompidou and in 1988 she was commissioned to remodel the Catalan Museum in Barcelona. She also designed the Palazzo Grassi in Venice (1985-1986) and the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco (2000-2003).
Aulenti is also internationally known as an exhibition designer: she designed for example the showrooms for Olivetti and Knoll. Finally, Gae Aulenti has created numerous stage sets for the director Luca Ronconi.