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Alessandro Mendini
Alessandro Mendini
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born in 1931 in Milan
Alessandro Mendini plays a central role in the development of Italian design. As publisher of the magazines Casabella (1970-76), Modo and domus (each 1979-85), the Milan designer was for many years, following his architectural studies, the theoretician of Italian avant-garde design and an important trend-setter. His work is exemplary for the cross-over between art, architecture and design.
In 1978, he was among the first members of the legendary Studio Alchimia. He designs furniture that revolutionises the image of Italian design and questions the position of the until then undisputed "Bella Design" from Italy. As a result, the bourgeois categories of good design and kitsch were challenged and reversed.
Together with other Italian designers, he developed the so-called "banal design" by transforming everyday objects through innovative colours and forms into new, ironic objects of design. Mendini calls this transformation "re-design".
As early as 1978, he subjects a series of famous seats and chairs to such a transformation. In doing so, he reveals the classics of modern furniture design to be period furniture for the modern intellectual ("Marcel Breuers's Wassilij Chair", "Kandissi Sofa", "Poltrona di Proust", "Redesign Thonet"). Already during the Alchimia era, Mendini also begins focussing on painting and literature.
Mendini acts a catalyst of international avant-garde design, especially with his epoch-making work, the "Infinite Furniture", as well as when he realised the "La Casa della Felicità" for Alberto Alessi. Mendini sees his task in convincing architects and designers with seemingly incompatible attitudes towards design to collaborate on a project.
In 1989, Mendini founds the Studio Mendini together with his brother Francesco, who is also an architect. Together they conduct theoretical studies, as well as working on highly successful, concrete design and architecture commissions. Among these are the world-wide over one hundred Swatch shops, new stores for Alessi and showrooms for Bisazza.
Among his numerous architectural designs, the museum in Groningen and the Paradise Tower in Hiroshima are the most outstanding. With both buildings, the typical Mendini teamwork is clearly visible: the projects are realised not alone, but rather in co-operation with the most varied guest-architects.
Among the most important recent projects are the Galerie Tumringerstrasse in Lörrach; the renovation of the facade of the "Casino Arosa"; the remodelling of Maghetti, a district of Lugano; the Scuola del Mosaico in Spilimbergo; the headquarters of Alessi; the "Forum di Omegna", a multifunctional park with museum; and the urban renovation of the historic "Parco della Villa Comunale" in Naples.
In 2000, the Studio Mendini is awarded, among others, the commission for a new building for an indoor swimming pool in Triest, as well as for a new inner-city office building for the Madsack publishing group in Hanover.
Alessandro Mendini lives and works in Milan. He is an honorary member of the Bezabel Academy for Art and Design in Jerusalem, Chevalier des Arts et des lettres in France, and honorary member of the Architectural Association in New York.
Publications by Alessandro Mendini:
1978 Paesaggio Casalingo
1981 Architettura addio
1983 Il progetto infelice
1991 La poltrona di Proust
Selected Exhibitions:
2001 Alessandro Mendini - Zwischen den Künsten (Between the Arts). Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, Münster. Organised in co-operation with the Studio Mendini, Milan. Catalogue-book with texts by Francois Burkhardt, July Capella, Frans Haks and Peter Weiß.