top of page

Alessandro Mendini: Exploring the Legacy of the Master of Playful Design

Alessandro Mendini was a renowned Italian designer and architect who made significant contributions to the world of modern design. Over the course of his long career, Mendini created numerous iconic designs that continue to influence contemporary design today.


Memphis Group

Memphis style design is a postmodernist design movement that emerged in the 1980s.

The movement was founded in Milan, Italy, by a group of designers and architects, including Ettore Sottsass, Alessandro Mendini, and Martine Bedin.

Memphis style design is known for its bold, bright colors, abstract patterns, and playful shapes. The movement rejected the minimalism and functionalism of modern design in favor of more expressive, emotional designs.


The name "Memphis" comes from the ancient city of Memphis, which was known for its opulence and vibrancy. The movement was influenced by a wide range of sources, including Art Deco, Pop Art, and kitsch culture. Memphis designers favored non-traditional materials such as plastic, laminate, and neon, and used them to create whimsical and often surreal objects.


One of the most famous examples of Memphis style design is the Carlton bookcase, designed by Ettore Sottsass in 1981. The bookcase features a bold, colorful pattern and an asymmetrical, sculptural shape that defies traditional design conventions.

Other notable Memphis designs include Michele De Lucchi's First Chair and Martine Bedin's Super Lamp.

Carlton bookcase Memphis Anna Corkscrew

Corkscrew

The Alessi Anna G corkscrew is an iconic design created by Alessandro Mendini.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the corkscrew's creation,

Alessi released a limited edition version of the Anna G corkscrew.

The 20th anniversary edition features a bright yellow and gold color scheme, with the number "20" emblazoned on the corkscrew's arm. The Anna G corkscrew is one of Mendini's most well-known designs and has become a popular symbol of contemporary Italian design.

The corkscrew is both functional and playful, with its whimsical silhouette and easy-to-use design making it a popular choice for wine enthusiasts and design lovers alike.


Proust Chair

Designed in 1978, the Proust Chair is Mendini's most well-known creation.

This new edition of the iconic armchair, made in 2009, is known for its whimsical and playful design. Thanks to its new multi-colored upholstery, this piece has been given a fresh and modern look. The chair features a Baroque-inspired shape with a unique and colorful hand-painted pattern on its surface.

Modern art and tradition are combined in this armchair while maintaining its original solid structure. Proust is a piece of furniture that is both classic and contemporary at the same time, which lends a sense of individuality to any space.

The Proust Chair is a testament to Mendini's design philosophy of combining art and functionality. It is considered a postmodern masterpiece and has become a symbol of creativity and individuality in the world of furniture design. The process of making this iconic chair can be viewed here

Proud chair Alessandro Mendini

Structure:

- Hand-carved and hand-painted massive beech

- Padding: Multi-density polyurethane foam, covered in cotton fabric matching the colors of the structure.

- Feet: Transparent plastic


Dimensions: 105 x 93 x 42/109h cm

Materials & finishes: Beech, Plastic, Polyurethane, Wood


Groninger Museum

Mendini's design for the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands is an architectural masterpiece. Completed in 1994, the museum's bold and colorful facade features a mixture of materials, including brick, glass, and ceramic tiles. There is a special connection between Cake's founder Laurine Brugman and this building. This was the first building to catch her attention after she moved to Groningen.

Over the subsequent years, she spent many hours here both as a visitor and as part of her work as a visual merchandiser.

Alessandro Staircase Groninger Museum

Photo by Bas Meelker

Atelier Mendini

Mendini founded Atelier Mendini with his brother Francesco in 1989. The studio's designs range from architecture to industrial design, including the Alessi Corkscrew and the Swatch Guard Design.

This historic Milanese studio is being continued by a team of architects and designers, with projects being undertaken from the Netherlands to Korea. Clearly, this talented designer had a talent for orchestrating not only the creation of objects and buildings but also the creation of artistic and human values.


Atelier Mendini