The Italian designer, Allesandro Mendini (1931 –) was born in Milan and is known for his avant-garde and edgy designs. He has worked in journalism, design, furniture and architecture and has read extensively in all fields. His work exemplifies the experimental and fun possibilities of functional creations and represents keenness toward fresh concepts and approaches. His design work focuses on reinterpreting classic designs with interesting new patterns and textures or playful alterations to standard objects that creates a new function or just a new feel. In doing so, Mendini has created a body of work that can be seen as an integral part of modern Italian design and all avant-garde creations.
Allesandro Mendini grew up in Milan and studied architecture at the Milan Polytechnic, where he now holds a teaching position. After finishing his studies, Mendini worked with the Nizzoli Associati, an architectural studio, before holding an advisary role to the Domus Academy and then becoming the editor-in-chief at Casabella, a design magazine. In later years, he cofounded numerous other groups and publications, and became experienced in writing, graphic design and painting. In 1980, he exhibited at the Venice Biennale with the Alchimia group that he had cofounded. Mendini moved to lecture in Vienna in 1983 and completed various architectural commissions over the following years. In 1993, Mendin held a solo exhibtion at Artiscope in Brussels. Allesandro Mendini has also designed a number of Swatch Watch branches and designed numerous gadgets under the name of the company he started with his brother Atelier Mendini in 1989. The work of Mendini is included in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Art Museum and the MoMA in New York, while he has work in private collections across the globe. He was awarded the Compasso d’Oro twice, in 1979 and 1981, named the Chevalier des Arts et Lettres in France, as well as being honored by the Architectural League of New York. International collaborations include Hèrmes, Cartier, Philips and Alessi.
Allesandro Mendini, ‘Calamobio’ chest of drawers, (circa 1988) Painted wood, Zanotta Italy
The Calamobio was originally designed in 1985 and was re-editioned in 1988, for one of the leading Italian design houses Zanotta. Each cabinet made forms part of a series of nine, that differ from all other series and are numbered and signed and some are housed in The Montreal Museum of Fine Art and it is said that a 1985 original is still kept in Allesandro Mendini’s private studio. The cabinet’s name sounds almost like Colombia or an eclectic mixture of words and both options can be associated with the aesthetic and patterning on the Calambio. The mixture of primary and secondary colours comes together to create a statement piece that can exist as an artwork in and of itself. The Calambio cabinet is a true representation of the edgy and exploratory design aesthetic of Mendini’s work.