Alessandro Mendini has made many contributions to the world of Italian furniture design.
Alessandro Mendini furniture is characterized by bright vivid color and the liberal use of decoration. To understand this man and his work, one must be aware of his involvement with a group of radical designers in the late 70s who sought to change the way furniture and other objects were viewed. Instead of seeing a chair as a place to sit, or evaluating a building a
s a place to live or work, this group wanted the value of such to be measured purely by their ability to be aesthetically pleasing. They sought to have each appreciated as a “work of art unto itself”. Mendini has been quoted as saying his favorite projects are those that are driven by emotion. He seeks to have his pieces connect emotionally to the human viewing them.
Much of his work has been described as having an underlying theme of redesign. This is evidenced by two of his more famous furniture pieces; Anna G and the Thonet chair. With Anna G he took a simple everyday household corkscrew and transformed it into an artistic representation of the female form. Inspired by the idea of a ballerina with raised arms, he redesigned this functional object to represent this ideal. This piece was so well received that it has also been done with a male form. With the famous Thonet chair, he demonstrated a similar principal by modernizing an existing and well known style of chair. Mendini’s use of decoration and redesign of this chair infused an existing commonplace piece of furniture with a fresh, neo-modern point of view. His work is integral to the origination of the concept of “banal design” referring to transforming every day objects into objects of art.
Although he is an internationally recognized furniture designer, his body of work is quite diverse. It includes furniture, environments, interiors, objects, paintings and architecture. He is involved with mainstream manufacturing as an image consultant with some of his pieces being reproduced en mass for companies such as Swatch, Swarovski, Philips and also Alessi. His areas of contribution include journalism having written, edited, and published magazine titles such as “Casabella”, “Modo” and “Domus”. Often crediting his inspiration to theory and to literary thought, he seems to have blended his many artistic disciplines. Mendini has said his approach to all projects is a “design first” mentality. His work has been described as avant-garde, versatile, bold as well as daring.
As a child, Mendini wanted to be a painter or a cartoonist. He earned a diploma in architecture from the Milan Polytechnic in 1959, and has gone on to establish himself as a central figure in the culture of Italian design. He has been viewed as a radical by many. His prolific and diverse lifetime of work make him an indisputably pivotal figure in Italian design culture. His influence in the areas of architecture, furniture, interiors, journalism, painting and poetry can not be denied.