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Alessandro Mendini : 1931 - 2019

It is with sadness that we learned yesterday the death of the Italian architect and designer Alessandro Mendini at the age of 87 years, leaving behind a wide range of fun and colorful postmodern achievements. Back to a contribution unmatched in the world of design.

Born in 1931 in Milan (Italy), Alessandro Mendini studied architecture at Polytechnic of Milan from which he graduated in 1959. Then follows a close collaboration with Mercello Nizzoli, founder of the studio Nizzoli Associati, from 1956 to 1970. Until then in the shadow of his work partner, his creativity is expressed through the movement Radical Design, of which he is one of the main protagonists. Established in reaction to Good Design by Charles and Ray Eames, the creative current challenges the consumer society through achievements redefining the concepts of good taste. Mendini explores the border between art and design by putting various performances in place. In 1974, while he directs Casabella magazine, the designer burns two chairs "Lassù" - reducing one of them almost to ashes while the other will carry few traces of this event - for the purpose to annihilate them from their primary function and turn them into altars for spiritual use.

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A strong position in the world of design that will never leave the mind of Alessandro Mendini and that he will not hesitate to highlight in the periodical Casabella - from 1970 to 1976 -, officiating as editor in Chief then at Fashion, magazine that he will found and direct from 1977 to 1981. Finally, he was also, from 1980 to 1985, the publisher of Domus, a monthly magazine for architecture, design and art. Various forums that allow him to take a critical and passionate look at the news of these disciplines.

His passion, he puts it obviously also at the service of creation and founds, in 1976 Studio Alchimia alongside Ettore Sottsass and Michele De Lucchi where humor reigns supreme. It was during this period that he imagined his famous Proust armchair, a baroque work with a colorful fabric inspired by Paul Signac's pointillist paintings. At the side of Alessi, he will realize the corkscrew Anna G whose form of woman will mark the spirits.
While design remains his favorite field, Alessandro Mendini has also contributed to the architectural heritage of many cities with achievements such as the Clock Tower of Gibellina (Italy), the Residence Alessi Omegna (Italy) and especially the Groninger Museum (Netherlands), erected between 1988 and 1994 in collaboration with Michele De Lucchi, Gerd Koster, Ferruccio Laviani, Philippe Starck, Frank Stella and Coop Himmelb (l) au.

Through his creativity, humor and critical thinking, Alessandro Mendini has marked the history of design and architecture in a work that will survive him.

Photographs: DR

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