Enzo Mari, one of the great masters of Italian design, has passed away at the age of 88, just after the inauguration of his exhibition at the Triennale Milano.
This extraordinary artist and designer, one of the important creators and theoreticians of design, passed away on October 19, 2020, right after the opening of “Enzo Mari curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist with Francesca Giacomelli.” This new exhibition dedicated to his career and thinking puts his 60-plus years of design activity on display through objects, models, drawings and materials that come from the immense Archivio Mari, recently donated to the CASVA – City of Milan’s Centre for Advanced Studies of Visual Arts.
It is a precious legacy that attests to this five-time Compasso d’Oro winning designer’s awesomeness and his capacity to move with ease from art to design, architecture, philosophy, didactics and graphic design. “Ciao Enzo. You leave as one of the greats”, wrote Stefano Boeri, President of the Triennale Milano, on his Facebook profile. Indeed, Mari’s career is filled with successful products (from the 1979 ADI Compasso d’Oro winning Delfina chair by Rexite to the Piuma cutlery designed for Zani&Zani, the lemon juicer Squeezer by Alessi, the Togo coatrack by Magis, the iconic Formosa calendar, the Putrella tray designed for Danese, just to name a few). But he is also known for his long and significant work as a theoretician. As a leader in the avantgarde movement since 1950s, Mari gave life to his own personal theory-philosophy of design by investigating formal, aesthetic, functional and procedural dynamics from within.
“Mari is not a designer”, declared another master of design, Alessandro Mendini. “If his objects were not there, I would not care much. Mari is the conscience of all of us, he is the conscience of designers, this matters.”
Teacher, political activist, artist and visionary, Enzo Mari was without a doubt a reference point for the world of design (his theoretical texts have shaped entire generations of designers), to which he gave significant contributions with his lean and poetic forms and his skillful and rational use of materials. Just consider his partnership with Danese Milano, which brought the brand to a process of experimentation which immediately proved to be successful (with products and projects that would soon become true icons).
Mari’s design was daring, experimental and joyous. One can immediately understand this in the exhibition Enzo Mari curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist with Francesca Giacomelli, which is divided into a historical section, curated by Francesca Giacomelli, and a series of contributions from international artists and designers: from Nanda Vigo to Adrian Paci, Mimmo Jodice, Barbara Stauffacher Solomon and many more. The idea, driven by the artistic direction of Lorenza Baroncelli, was to pay homage to this great master with site-specific installations and work researched ad hoc that now seem, alongside his work exhibited in the Triennale, to be a proper and heartful way to say “thanks maestro”.
Where: Triennale Milano, Viale Emilio Alemagna, 6, Milan, Italy