closed Mendini Atelier. The architectures

The show

"This is our heresy: the structure of architecture is resolved in the facade, the function of the object is fulfilled in the decorative narrative of the surface, everything is a drawing or a sculpture of itself: designing is painting."

This is how Alessandro Mendini summed up the philosophy of Atelier Mendini in 1994, an extraordinary permanent workshop which, under his and his brother Francesco's guidance, inaugurated a way of doing architecture, art and design beyond disciplinary boundaries.

The Nivola Museum, in paying homage to Alessandro Mendini three months after his death, presents the fruit of fifty years of projects: all the public and private architectures of Atelier Mendini, told through 25 extraordinary wooden models, which faithfully reproduce as many buildings, accompanied by a series of drawings. In the exhibition, created by Abet Laminati, the Atelier's most famous buildings are revived in a miniaturized, Gulliverian dimension of toy-sculptures: from the visionary Groninger Museum in Holland (1989-1994) to the Tower of Paradise in Hiroshima, Japan, up to to the very recent projects for South Korea. Mendinian architecture is postmodern and neo-constructivist, colorful and cheerful. It subverts the relationship between structure and decoration, proclaiming the supremacy of the second, understood not as superficiality but, in Mendini's words, as a “cult of the surface, on which a richness of the visual narrative is inscribed, which redeems the stupidity of function. "

As the curator of the exhibition Aldo Colonetti states, the models are not just design tools, but "autonomous expressive works, they seem suddenly parachuted into the museum space with their unexpected design force." Initially presented at the Milan Triennale in 2018, today at the Nivola Museum they interact with the simple and essential architecture of the exhibition space, the ancient wash house in Orani. “Here, - continues Colonetti - lies precisely in this ability to be oneself and, at the same time, to listen to the interpreters, that is, we citizens of the world destined to inhabit the architecture, the design identity of Francesco and Alessandro; on the one hand, reducing the complexity of possible forms to a series of compositional languages of Galilean derivation, favoring geometric figures and mathematical relationships, and on the other hand, aware, especially Alessandro but always in total harmony with Francis, that color does not it is a subjective variable: it is a constituent and structural part of the world ”. Alessandro Floris' installation focuses precisely on color - the lively and luminous ranges of Mendinian chromatism - to relate the exceptional plastic creations of the Atelier with the rooms of the museum and the Mediterranean light that pervades them. In front of the exhibition space, on the panoramic terrace of the Nivola Museum, a Mendinian living room awaits visitors: the iconic Proust armchairs, in the outdoor version, form a social corner for rest and conversation. It is a tribute, created in collaboration with Magis, to Alessandro Mendini's idea that “the museum must be institutional but not paternalistic, it must be as kind and welcoming as a private home”. Alessandro Mendini (1931-2019), architect, artist, designer, theorist and journalist, was born in Milan. After graduating in 1959, he began his profession in Marcello Nizzoli's studio. In 1970 he abandoned architectural design to devote himself to architecture and design journalism: he directed Casabella, Modo and Domus, magazines through which he spreads his requests for the transformation of the world of design. Together with Andrea Branzi and Ettore Sottsass and with the presence in Global Tools and Radical design he is the main theorist and promoter of the renewal of the Italian design of the seventies.

In 1979 he joined Studio Alchimia, the radical design group that in the 80s together with Memphis will upset functionalist design by moving on the border between design and art, with references to popular culture and kitsch. With Alchimia he creates objects, furniture, environments, paintings, installations, architecture. Among the most significant works of this period are the Groningen Museum and the reinvention of the image of the Alessi company, of which he is a meta-project consultant. Francesco Mendini, architect, was born in Milan in 1939. He began his activity at Nizzoli Associati with architectural projects, including neighborhoods, new offices and the social center for Italsider in Taranto, and then other complexes in Europe and in North Africa. In the 1970s he also concentrated on industrialization and construction engineering and was a consultant to various building research institutes and to the CNR. In the Atelier he was the general manager, especially for the architectural works and the setting up of interior spaces and exhibitions.


Timetable and tickets


Via Gonare, 2 (Museo Nivola)
08026 Orani


More on the program

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Until 22 February 2023

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