closed Atelier Mendini. Architectures

The show

“This is our heresy: the structure of architecture resolves itself in the facade, the function of the object finds its fulfillment in the decorative narration of the surface, everything is the drawing or the sculpture of itself: designing is painting.”

This is how Alessandro Mendini in 1994 summarized the philosophy of Atelier Mendini, an extraordinary workshop which, under the guidance of himself and his brother Francesco, started a new way of doing architecture, art and design beyond any disciplinary boundary. The Museo Nivola, paying homage to Alessandro Mendini after three months from his passing, presents the outcome of fifty years of architectural planning: all Atelier Mendini’s public and private architectures, shown by 25 extraordinary accurate wooden maquettes of 25 buildings, together with a related series of drawings.

In the exhibition, produced by Abet Laminati, the most famous buildings by the Atelier come alive in a miniaturized, Gulliverian scale, as toy-sculptures: from the visionary Groningen Museum in Holland (1989-1994) to the Tower of Paradise in Hiroshima, Japan, to the most recent projects in South Korea. The Mendinian architecture is post-modern and neo-constructivist, colorful and joyful. It subverts the relationship between structure and decoration, claiming the supremacy for the second, understood not as superficiality but – in Mendini’s own words – as “cult of the surface, on which is inscribed, through decoration, a richness of visual narration that offsets the dullness of the function.”

As the exhibition curator Aldo Colonetti puts it, the maquettes are not just project tools, but also “autonomous expressive works, they look as they were abruptly parachuted in the museum’s space with their unexpected strength.” First presented the Triennale di Milano in 2018, at the Museo Nivola they relate to the simple and essential architecture of the exhibition space – once the public wash house of the village. “There – goes on Colonetti – it is exactly in this capacity of being themselves and, at the same time, of listening to the interpreters, i.e. we the citizens destined to inhabit the architectures all over the world, that the project identity of Francesco and Alessandro shows; on one side they reduce the complexity of the possible forms to a series of compositional languages harking back to Galilean models, with a preference for geometrical figures and mathematical relations; on the other side both of them – especially Alessandro, but in complete agreement with Francesco – are aware of the fact that color is not a subjective variable: it is a structural and substantial part of the world.” The exhibition layout by Alessandro Floris focuses on color – the lively and light range of Mendinian chromaticism – to put the exceptional plastic creations of the Atelier in relation with the museum’s space and the Mediterranean light that floods it. In front of the exhibition hall, on the panoramic terrace of the Museo Nivola, a Mendinian open air living room awaits the visitors: the iconic Proust armchairs form a corner for socializing, resting and conversation. It is a homage, made possible by the collaboration with Magis, to Alessandro Mendini’s idea that “the museum should be institutional but not paternalistic, should be gentle and hospitable as a private home”.


Timetable and tickets


Via Gonare, 2 (Museo Nivola)
08026 Orani


More planned

date_range Museo Nivola Museo Nivola

Video alterations.

Until 13 February 2022

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