- Alessandro Mendini
BiographyConsidered one of Italy’s leading designers and critics, the extraordinary, multifaceted career of Alessandro Mendini (1931-2019) spans over forty years, embracing design, architecture and art.
“Unconventional Architect” (G. Di Pietrantonio), "A voice that stood out from the crowd" (F. Oddo) and "Revolutionary Design" (R. Scorranese), Mendini graduated from the Politecnico di Milano (1959), but his work was not exclusively confined to architecture. His professional career took him from the Seventies in unceasing endeavor that would explore various design disciplines, creating objects, furniture, installations and paintings, particularly, but not exclusively, with leading Made in Italy companies.
A world of objects based on exuberant, individual design, always in pursuit of curiosity and eclecticism. His theoretical work is significant, both with the renowned Studio Alchimia, and his brother Francesco, also an architect, with whom he founded Atelier Mendini (1989).
The definition of theoretical concepts on historical design phenomena and movements, including post-modern design and re-design, is closely associated with Mendini who, since the Seventies, has made an essential contribution to their expression and critical analysis.
His most revolutionary achievement was to bring ironic, amusing, playful and multi-faceted style to design, “modernization beginning in the 1950s with objects that, in addition to having a precise function, are also fun”.
He was editor-in-chief of Casabella (1970-1976) and Domus (1980-1985 and 2010-2011), and also founded Modo (1977) and Ollo (1988) magazines.
Mendini collaborated with well-known international brands, including Alessi, Bisazza, Cartier, Hermés, Philips, Swatch and Venini, creating homeware, objects and furniture collections.
His numerous projects in Italy include the Alessi Factories at Omegna, Olympic swimming pool center at Trieste, restoration of Villa Communale, construction of three subway stations in Naples, Byblos Art Hotel-Villa Amistà, Verona, Trend Group offices in Vicenza, urban redevelopment of an industrial area in the Bovisa district of Milan, restoration and street furniture for the promenade in Catanzaro, a multi-purpose complex on Via della Bicchieraia (including the municipal theater, Teatro Comunale Aretino), Arezzo.
Outside of Italy, his architectural projects include the Paradise Tower, Hiroshima, Japan, redevelopment of a district in Lugano, Switzerland, the Madsack office building, Hanover, a commercial building in Lörrach, Germany, and many other buildings in Europe, USA and Asia.
The Groninger Museum, Groningen, Holland (1994) which houses art, history and archeology, is noted for its bold identity, fusing various architectural styles and codes, due to his collaboration with numerous world-famous designers, including Michele de Lucchi, Philippe Starck and Coop Himmelb(l)au.
In Korea, where he also consulted on urban planning in several cities, Mendini designed the trade fair district in Incheon (2007) and the new headquarters of the Triennale di Milano (2009).
His renowned collections of furniture and objects, installations and re-design are particularly notable, and demonstrate his multi-faceted, free-thinking, cross-over design approach.
Acclaimed designs include the Proust armchair (1978), a post-modern design combining an 18th century-style armchair with a colorful fabric that unites “Impressionism, pointillism and divisionism” (L. Bove).
Other examples of his work include the Anna G corkscrew for Alessi (1994) and, this century, the exquisite Cartier Column (2002), Magis Proust armchair for Magis (2011) and Amuleto lamp (2013) for Ramun.
Mendini received numerous awards including 2 Compassi d'Oro for Design (1979, 1981), another for his lifetime achievements (2014), and the French title "Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres".
Mendini also received an honorary title from the Architectural League of New York, and was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Politecnico Milano and Ecole Normale Supérieure de Cachan, France, and the European Prize for Architecture in 2015.
Together with his brother, Francesco, Atelier Mendini was awarded the Medaglia d'oro for Italian architecture 2003 at the Triennale di Milano for the Naples subway project and the Prix Villegiature 2006 in Paris for the Byblos Art Hotel, Verona.
Publications dedicated to his work include Codice Mendini. Le regole per progettare by Fulvio Irace (Electa, 2016).
Alessandro Mendini selected works
- Lampada Amuleto per Ramun (2013)
- Poltrona Magis Proust per Magis (2011)
- Triennale di Milano - Sede di Incheon (Corea), 2009
- Byblos Art Hotel-Villa Amistà, Verona (Italia), 2005
- Centro natatorio e sportivo, Trieste (Italia), 2004
- Galleria Mendini, Lörrach (Germania), 2004
- Colonna di Cartier (2002)
- Dinosauro - Dinosaur Museum, Katsuyama (Giappone), 2000
- Metropolitana di Napoli - fermate Salvator Rosa/Materdei/Università, Napoli (Italia), 2000-2009
- Villa Comunale - riqualifica del parco, Napoli (Italia), 1999
- Luxo - Stardust, 1998
- Fondazione Maghetti - riqualifica di quartiere, Lugano (Svizzera), 1998
- Complesso di via della Bicchieraia, Arezzo (Italia), 1997
- Macinapepe Anna Pepper, Alessi (1996)
- Alessi - collezione Anna G., 1994-2004
- Uffici Alessi, Omegna (Italia), 1993
- Bustop Hannover – fermata Steintor, Hannover (Germania), 1992
- Swatch (Spiritello, Cosmesis, Metroscape, Lots of Dots, Olimpico), 1990-1994
- Torre Paradiso, Hiroshima (Giappone), 1988
- Groninger Museum (con Michele de Lucchi, Philippe Starck e Coop Himmelb(l)au), Groninger (Olanda), 1988-1994
- Torre dell’Orologio, Gibellina (Italia), 1987
- Oggetto banale, Biennale di Venezia, 1980
- Poltrona di Proust, 1978
- Divano Kandissi, 1978
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