Italian modernist artist and furniture designer
Enzo Mari (born in April 27, 1932, in Novara, Italy) is a noted Italian Modernist artist and furniture designer. He studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan, Italy, from 1952 to 1956 and draws inspiration from the idealism of the arts and crafts movement. In the 1950s, he participated in the avant-garde design movements and joined the Kinetic Art group. In this group, he met artist and designer Bruno Munari, whose influence can be seen in Enzo’s carved wooden puzzle work 16 Animals, produced by Danese in 1957.
In the 1960s, Enzo published a series of books, including the acclaimed The Apple and the Butterfly (1969), a book without text in which simple yet striking graphic-style illustrations depict the story of a caterpillar and an apple and the cycle of life. From 1963 to 1966, he taught at the Humanitarian School of Milan, where he did extensive research in the areas of theory of design, graphics, and fittings, for which he was awarded a Compasso d’Oro in 1967. read more
During this time, he also designed the Elisa chair and Box chair (1971), and the Sof Sof chair (1972) for Driade; the Delfina chair for Robots (1974); and the Sumatra filing system for Danese (1976). Enzo Mauri collaborated with Artemide, Alessi, Zanotta, Driade, and Muji, among other design manufacturers.
In 1972, Mari participated in the exhibition “Italy—The New Domestic Landscape” at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. This exhibition included the design objects of many of the important Italian designers of the time, such as Vico Magistretti, Ettore Sottsass, Gaetano Pesce, Mario Bellini, and Paolo Lomazzi. In this exhibition, Mari’s work was represented by the Pago-Pago reversible vase (1969), manufactured by Danese. This molded ABS vase could be used straight or upside down, changing its aesthetic appearance.
In 1974, he published the book Autoprogettazione about building easy-to-assemble/do-it-yourslef furniture using as raw material only rough boards and nails. In the book, Enzo Mari uses the term autoprogettazione as a concept to bring awareness of the process of “making” and design, and instructs the reader to build practical and useful furniture pieces through very simple techniques; hoping that benefits drawn from this process of “making” would be more valuable than the object being made.
From 1976 to 1979, Enzo Mari was president of the Associazione per il Disegno Industriale (ADI) and was awarded the Compasso d’Oro in 1979 for the second time for his collaboration in the design of the Delfina chair. During his lifetime, he has been awarded the Compasso d’Oro four times and has taught at University of Parma (Parma), the Accademia Carrara (Carrara), Politecnico di Milano, ISIA (Florence), the Hochschule der Künste (Berlin), and the Hochschule für angewandte Kunst in Vienna.
In 1983, Enzo Mari had an important solo exhibition at the Centro Studi e Archivio della Comunicazione at the University of Parma, for which he donated 8,500 designs and drawings from his archive. His art and design objects are included in the collections of several contemporary art museums, such as MoMA (New York), the National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome, and the Triennale di Milano Museum. He had two retrospective shows in Turin, Italy, and an important exhibit of his work in Adhocracy at the first Istanbul Design Biennial.
Last updated: June 21, 2019
For more information on Enzo Mari, visit the following:
Enzo Mari at Magisdesign
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