From the Swiss Canton of Ticino, Margherita Palli studied in Switzerland and Italy. She gained her degree in scenography at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera (Milan) in 1976. In the late 1970s she began working on installations and in the theatre with the sculptor, Alik Cavaliere and with architect Gae Aulenti. In 1984, she opened her studio and since then has collaborated with many directors: Luca Ronconi, Franco Branciaroli, Liliana Cavani, Daniel Ezralow, Cesare Lievi, Mario Martone, Andrea Barzini, Mauro Avogadro, Valter Malosti, Leo Muscato, Carmelo Rifici and Aleksandr Sokurov. In more recent years she has created installation projects for art exhibitions and collaborates with the studio of architect Italo Rota.In 2016, she curated the W. Women in Italian Design installation, Design Museum Nona at the Triennale di Milano and, in 2017, created the installations for fashion week for Milano XL, and curated the Maria Callas in scena – Gli anni della Scala exhibition in the museum of the Teatro alla Scala.
In the 2017-18 season she worked on Andrea Chénier directed by Mario Martone for the opening of the season at the Teatro alla Scala , on 7 December; on Carmen directed by Henning Brockhaus for Thèâtre Royal de Liège and on the sets for Falstaff, directed by Mario Martone at the Staatsoper unter den Linden in Berlin.
She has been the recipient of a great number of awards, including the Premio UBU, the Premio Abbiati, the Gassman Award, the ETI Olimpici del Teatro Award, the National Association of Theatre Critics Award, and a Swiss Theatre Award, in 2015. In 2007, she gained an entry in the Guinness World Records for the world’s largest video wall.
Since 1991, she has taught courses at a number of universities; she is Course Leader of the three-year Scenography course at Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti (NABA) in Milan, and Professor at the Accademia di Architettura of USI – Università della Svizzera Italiana at the Mendrisio campus. She has also taught at the Università IUAV in Venice.