In Memoriam – Alessandro Mendini has always stood conventional design up and fought for a lateral-thinking creative approach. His work can be described as radical, post modern, ironic, irreverent and always human-based. “I treat objects as if they were human beings. If I was an anthropologist I would study them as people interacting with each others.”
Born in Milan in 1931, Alessandro Mendini became one of the figureheads of the Radical Design Movement together with Andrea Branzi and Ettore Sottsass. In 1979 he joined the studio Alchimia. “In his work, Mendini never gave up to his role as an activist, criticizing the ‘pure professionalism’, and always eager to call himself into question with ironic and decorative experimentations,” wrote Andrea Branzi.
Among his most iconic designs the upholstered with fixed multi-color fabric Proust chair for Cappellini which combined a baroque shape with a pointillist surface pattern.
The colourful Zabro chair for Zanotta, 1984, turns into a table with a simple gesture. For Alessi he designed Anna G., probably the most famous design corkscrew, as well as an espresso coffee maker in 2011.
As an architect he completed the yellow tower of the Gröniger Museum in the Netherlands; “he was of great importance for design and architecture worldwide,” tweeted the museum. Steintor tram station in Hannover, Germany, was designed as part of a bus-stops art project.
His most experimental works include a colurful exhibition for Cartier, the stainless steel glasses designed for Alchimia and the quirky ‘furniture for men’ for Bisazza – 2012. “Farewell Alessandro, you opened the doors of design of our company,” commented Rossella e Piero Bisazza.
During his carrier he won three Compasso D’Oro – the highest accolade for Italian Design -, and also directed the leading Italian architecture magazines Casabella and Domus which he once described as “a calm and tranquillising presence many years long, a broad continuous ow like that of a big river”.
The architect also co-founded Domus Academy, which today is one of Italy’s leading postgraduate design schools. “The character of his design is marked by what was his strong interest in mixing different cultures and different forms of expression.” Comment at Domus Academy.
“Brilliant, visionary, always interested in exploring different disciplines, in his 87 years of life he never stopped thinking of man, understood as “body, psyche and spirit”, as being at the centre of the project.” Writes architecture critic Francesca Oddo on Abitare.
“He always began with the person to arrive at the definition of objects as elements capable of offering satisfaction and of spaces as representations of the psychological dimension of those who inhabit them.”