Studio Alchimia

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(established 1976)

Founded by Alessandro and Adriana Guerriero and Bruno and Giorgio Gregori in 1976, this Milan‐based avant‐garde experimental design group worked outside the constraints of mass production and the dictates of manufacturers, evolving from the Anti‐Design experimentation of Italian radical design groups of the 1960s such as Archizoom and Superstudio. The pivotal figures of the group were Alessandro Mendini and Ettore Sottsass Jr., both of whom were opposed to the dogma of elegance and ‘good taste’ so evident in much mainstream Italian design of the 1950s and 1960s. Other key designers associated with Studio Alchimia included Andrea Branzi, Michele De Lucchi, and Matteo Thun. The group's exhibitions included Bauhaus I and Bauhaus II, the latter shown at the Milan Triennale of 1979, and The Banal Object exhibited at the Venice Biennale of 1980. The Bauhaus exhibitions included commonplace motifs drawn from the 1950s, drawing together strands of design, culture, and everyday life in the belief that the ordinary can provide the impetus for creativity. The Banal Object comprised a collection of everyday products such as irons, carpet sweepers, lights, and shoes, the banality of which was accentuated by the addition of dramatic decorative features. Mendini was commited to the idea of design as expressing a polemical or didactic position rather than providing a set of propositions for the reinvigoration of design as a positive instrument of social and cultural change. It was this latter outlook that was to be taken up by Memphis for much of the 1980s. The group was awarded the Compasso d'Oro in 1981 for design research.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.

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