Revolutionary Italian designer, architect and critic Alessandro Mendini, has died, aged 87
Born in Milan in 1931, Mendini graduated with an architecture degree from Politecnico di Milano in 1959. By the 1970s, he was a main figure in the Radical design movement and was a founding member of the Global Tools design collective, which he initiated in the design magazine Casabella, of which he was editor. He also edited Domus and founded the magazines Modo in 1977 and Ollo in 1988.
He is also the co-founder of Domus Academy, a prestigious private school of design in Milan that offers post-graduate and professional courses. The school released a statement last Tuesday in his memory, quoting the designer: "Now, I don't know who first came up with the word 'School', but it was in the air that it might be interesting to have a teaching environment in a city that is the capital of design but that had no design schools…"
Mendini, who died on February 18, was a member of Studio Alchimia, a collective whose use of colour and decoration was a precursor to the Memphis Group, which broke away headed by Ettore Sottsass.
Together with his brother Francesco, he founded the Milanese design brand Atelier Mendini in 1989, which he ran until his death. His characteristic explosions of colour appeared in many places, most notably the Groninger Museum, where he designed the iconic yellow tower at the entrance. His other buildings include a memorial tower in Hiroshima, Japan, and the Arosa Casino in Switzerland.
His work also extended to product design and he is perhaps best known for the Proust Armchair, an enduring example of early European postmodernism that combined a Baroque-style form with hand-painted Pointillist-style dots on its fabric and wooden frame. His signature hybrid of art and functionality can also be found in the whimsical Anna G. kitchen tools he designed for Italian houseware brand Alessi, which were a huge commercial success.
His work also extended to product design and he is perhaps best known for the Proust Armchair
His works are currently on display in the group exhibition PoliARte (L'Arte delle Arti) in Bologna's Galleria Enrico Astuni until April 27, alongside other Italian designers including Gabriele Basilico, Alberto Garutti, Ugo La Pietra and Corrado Levi.