On October 19, 2020, Enzo Mari died at the age of 88 in the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan. Famous for his Autoprogettazione, the designer of objects as refined as they are ergonomic, Enzo Mari established himself during his career as the leader of “made in Italy” design.
Enzo Maripassed away in the Lombard capital the day after the opening of an exhibition dedicated to him at the Milan Triennial. With numerous creations to his credit, such as the Putrellaand the Bambu Vase, the designer gradually established himself as the master of Italian design. Sponsored by many brands – Artemide, Danese, Kartell, Magis, Olivetti, Poltrona Frau, Zanotta, Le Creuset, Thonet, Muji– Enzo Mari obtained the Compasso d’oroseveral times during his career, which we will review here.
Avant-garde, Enzo Mari was one of the first to defend a collaborativevision of design. Born in 1932in Cerano, the future designer left his native Piedmont for Milanand joined the Academy of Fine Arts in Brera. In 1952, the self-taught designer founded his own studio. Inspired by the Marxist movement, Enzo Mari never ceased to “involve the people”in the design of the objects that make up his daily life.
In 1971, Enzo Mari presents the Box Chair, a prototype chair, delivered flat to be assembled by the user. The user is then able to reappropriate the object that was “confiscated”by the manufacturers. The following year, the Italian designer presented Pago Pagovases at the iconic exhibition devoted by MoMAin New York to transalpine design, “Italy: The New Domestic Landscape”.The user is free to use the vase in a variety of ways, upside down if desired.
Nevertheless, it was during one of his exhibitions organized in Milanin 1974, “Proposta per autoprogettazione”, that the creator will be the most talked about. Indeed, Enzo Mari unveils there for free all the plans of his furniture collection(chair, table, desk, etc.). For the designer, the important thing is to give the consumers the possibility to find the full control of the objects they use every day. Enzo Mari even encouraged all those who had modified his original plan to send him their notesand photographs.
It is thus a design for all that the creator proposes, but also a responsible design, as shown by the Ecolo vasesthat Enzo Mari made for Alessiin 1995. Thanks to various cut-outs, the genius designer managed to transform bottles of dishwashing detergentinto flower receptacles. Four years later, Enzo Mari initiated the Barcelona Manifesto, which advocates that ethicsshould be at the foundation of all forms of design.
In 2009, French designer Pierre Charpindescribed Enzo Mari in Le Mondeas “an author of objects of immense beauty, which seem to belong to a past world but which continue to shine”.And that’s an understatement: in 2020, Enzo Mari continues to inspire young designers. In this sense, designer Alessandro Mendiniconcluded that “Enzo Mari is not a designer, but the conscience of us all”.
Featured photo : © Self-Assembly
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