Marco Zanini finished studying architecture at university in Florence in 1978. While still a student, Zanini worked as a designer for the Argonaut Company in Los Angeles and also freelanced as a designer for a while in San Francisco. In 1975 Marco Zanini met Ettore Sottsass in Florence through a workshop conducted there by Global Tools. After taking his diploma in 1978, Marco Zanini worked in Ettore Sottsass's practice.
In 1981 Marco Zanini was a founding member of "Memphis" and from then on showed work at all Memphis exhibitions. Marco Zanini designed furniture; in 1981 he designed the "Dublin" sofa, in 1983 "Union", a shelving system for books. "Roma", a plastic armchair, is a 1986 Marco Zanini design.
Marco Zanini is, however, known chiefly for the bright-colored objects he has designed in handblown glass, including the 1980 "Cassiopea" vase and the 1982 "Alpha Centauri" vase. Marco Zanini's ceramic objects are just as grotesque and colorful. In 1983 Marco Zanini came up with the "Colorado", "Sepik", and "Mississippi" teapots, which were made for Memphis by Ceramiche Flavia.
Marco Zanini has taught design and architecture at numerous institutes and universities around the world.