Alessandro Mendini

(b. 1931)

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(1931– )

Mendini played an important role in Italian avant‐garde design of the 1970s and 1980s, particularly in association with the Milan‐based Studio Alchimia established in 1976. He was prominent in the dissemination of design theory and practice as editor in chief of Casabella (1971–6), founder and director of Modo (1977–81), and editor of Domus (1979–85). Furthermore, his written polemics such as Architettura Addio (1981) and Il progetto infelice (1983) have underlined his importance in progressive Italian design in the last three decades of the 20th century. He has organized design exhibitions and seminars around the world and his design work is represented in leading museums and collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Prior to joining the architectural practice of Nizzoli Associates, where he remained as a partner until 1970 designing buildings and products, Mendini had graduated with a diploma in architecture from Milan Polytechnic in 1959. Associated with the Anti‐Design and Radical Design movements, by the early 1970s he was involved with experimental work both for the furniture manufacturer Cassina and as a founder of Global Tools. His work for Alchimia included the Proust armchair (1978), the Kandissi sofa (1979), The Banal Object exhibit at the Venice Biennale (1980), and his series of Infinite Furniture (1981) on which he collaborated with many other designers over a period of years. He also designed for the progressive Milan‐based Memphis group in the early 1980s as well as for manufacturers such as Alessi. For the latter he organized the limited edition Tea and Coffee Piazza sets which were commissioned from eleven leading Postmodernist architects and designers and launched simultaneously in galleries in New York and Milan in 1983. His designs for Alessi have included the Anna G corkscrew (1994) and the Chocolate calculator (2000). Other important manufacturing clients have included Philips, Swatch, Venini, and Zanotta. He has also acted as an artistic and brand identity consultant to many others. In 1989, with his brother Francesco, he established the Atelier Mendini, which was awarded architectural commissions including the Groeningen Museum in Holland (1988–94) and a memorial tower in Hiroshima, Japan (1989).

Mendini was awarded the Compasso d'Oro for his contribution to design in 1979, received the title of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres in France, was recognized by the Architectural League of New York, and served on the advisory board for the Domus Academy in Milan.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.

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