Milan-born Alessandro Mendini (1931–2019) was an artist, poet, designer, and architect. He edited the magazines Casabella, Modo, and Domus, while collaborating with international firms, serving also as a consultant for several companies, including ones in the Far East.
After graduating in architecture from Milan Polytechnic in 1959, Mendini began his professional career at the design firm Nizzoli Associati. Subsequently, he collaborated with several major design studios in Italy, including the Studio Alchimia and Gruppo Memphis. During this time, he experimented with a range of styles and approaches to design, earning a reputation as one of the leading exponents of postmodernism in the design field.
Mendini developed a multidisciplinary approach to design, working on a wide range of projects that spanned industrial design, architecture, art, and design theory. He created furniture, everyday objects, textiles, ceramics and artworks that combined bold shapes, bright colors and cultural references.
One of his most iconic designs is the Proust armchair, created in 1978, which helped define his distinctive style. The armchair features an intricate and decorative design inspired by the “puntinismo” art movement. This piece became a symbol of postmodern design and helped solidify Mendini’s reputation as an innovator in his field. Over the course of his career, he created a fairy-tale world of objects, furniture, paintings, writings, environments, architecture, and situations that were often intertwined, controversial, paradoxical, ironic, and literary.
In addition to his design work, Mendini wrote numerous articles and books on design, art theory, and visual culture. He was a fervent advocate of the idea that design should transcend pure functionality and become a form of artistic expression.
Alessandro Mendini received numerous awards for his contributions to the world of design and architecture, including the prestigious Compasso d’Oro in 1979 and 1981. Other awards include: Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres in France, Architectural League of New York, and Honorary Degrees from the University of Milan, Paris, Wroclaw, and Seoul.
His works may be found in various museums and private collections. The main idea of his theoretical and written work is that of the hybridization of the arts. This quest led him toward radical design, neo-modern architecture, and a calligraphic, coloristic, symbolic, romantic, and problematic approach to design.