Alessandro Mendini, A Story of Timeless Italian Design

Architect, journalist, designer, artist, and so much more — everything you need to know about the creative with the unique ability to look and speak to the future

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Alessandro Mendini is an Italian architect, designer, painter, journalists, critic, and theorist of postmodern design, banal design, and re-design. As an active figure in Italy’s cultural spheres during the 1970’s, he helped found movements and research groups such as Global Tools (1973) and Alchimia (1979). Founder and director of design magazines Modo (1977-1979) and Ollo (1988-present), he also directed two of the most important Italian architecture magazines, Casabella (1970-1976) and Domus (1979-1985).

Back in 1989, together with his brother Francesco, he founded Atelier Mendini in Milan. The studio produced everything from objects and furnishings to installations, interiors, paintings, architecture, international collaborations, and consultations to the far reaching east. Throughout his illustrious career, he’s been awarded countless prizes and recognition for his work: the French Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, the Italian Compasso d'oro alla Carriera, the American Architectural League Prize, the 2014 European Prize for Architecture, and an honorary degree from the Politecnico di Milano. In other words, a true intellectual.

Over the years, Mendini became somewhat of a pioneer-artist, shaking up preconceived notions of design and architecture with a fresh sense of irony and innovation. From the industrial to artisan and self-made, Mendini has solidified his place as a bona fide maestro of Italian design.

Just take a look at the man’s work, starting with one of his most famous pieces, the Proust armchair. Designed in 18th century style, the chair was dedicated to the expressive power of the famous French writer. Its first version, created in 1978, featured a carved wood frame painted by hand and upholstered with a multicolor fabric.

Proust armchair by Alessandro Mendini in Carrara marble on the left, and rotational plastic for Magis on the right
Foto Tom Vack

A personalized and replicated piece of work, the 2011 version (above right), was created in rotational plastic for Magis, while the version in Carrara marble (above left) was made for the Solid Sense project by Italian Art Factory during the 2014 Salone del Mobile in Milan.

Anna G Corkscrew by Alessandro Mendini for Alessi
Courtesy photo

Who doesn’t remember the Anna G Corkscrew by Alessandro Mendini for Alessi? Among Mendini’s most famous designs, the corkscrew inspired by the silhouette of designer Anna Gili was created back in 1994, and was followed with countless other reworked editions. Pictured above is the 2014 version, designed for the 20th anniversary of the beloved tool.

Amuleto table lamp by Alessandro Mendini for Ramun
Courtesy photo

Then there was the Amuleto table lamp, making its debut in 2012 for the Korean brand Ramun. As a lucky charm (it even says so on the base of each lamp), the design plays on archaic references mixed with innovative and modern technology. The 2017 edition (pictured above) was colored pink and paired with a set of containers in transparent plastic under the name Ramun Riflesso.

Another collaboration, this time with the Swiss watch brand Swatch, was also a complete hit. The first model, Spot the Dot, was born from the designers love for art and featured inspiration from contemporary divisionism. Colorful dots represent a form of dematerialization like the individual pieces of a mosaic or pattern in a light and playful concept of time.

Tegamino by Alessandro Mendini for Alessi.
Foto Walter Zerla, Carlo Lavatori

With a similar approach and entirely different function, Mendini was inspired by art once again for his latest projects in 2018. Back for Alessi, Mendini took on Tegamino (pictured above), a steel pan designed specifically for cooking eggs, while Alessini (pictured below) is a set of plates and cutlery for kids.

Alessini tableware set for kids by Alessandro Mendini for Alessi.
Foto Carlo Lavatori

What can you say? The man is 86 years young.

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