Design and style magazines today have lost their crucial edge and are little more than catalogues, according to Italian designer, theorist and editor Alessandro Mendini (+ transcript).
This is because there are no longer any coherent design movements to compose about, mentioned Mendini, who edited influential Italian titles Casabella, Modo and Domus in the 1970s and 1980s.
“Now there is no a lot more ideology,” he stated. “All the planet is very baffled, all the world is really violent. There are too a lot of various possibilities.”
Each and every of the magazines he worked on was aligned with a distinct ideology, he stated, providing the titles clarity and strength.
“If I would do a magazine now, it would be not possible,” he advised Dezeen. “The magazines on paper I think could now be good documents, but not in a crucial way.”
Mendini spoke to Dezeen at the Salone del Mobile in Milan in April, in which he launched a plastic stool and clock for Italian brand Kartell.
This image: Mendini’s Roy stools for Kartell. Primary image: portrait of Alessandro Mendini. Copyright Dezeen
The stool, referred to as Ray, combines graphics derived from the work of pop artist Roy Lichtenstein with the form of a conventional Chinese stool.
The method of combining kind and pattern in this way is equivalent to the methodology Mendini employed to style the 1978 Proust chair – a single of the most iconic and revolutionary chairs of the last century.
“It is a really exact method of operating,” he mentioned, explaining how the Proust chair combines a Baroque type with a pattern of coloured dots derived from the perform of Pointillist artist Paul Signac. “I connect shapes with the pattern of painters in a really methodic way.”
Associated story: Alessandro Mendini revisits Proust chair for marble exhibition
The chair came about when Mendini set himself the job of developing a product for Marcel Proust, the French author who is regarded as the father of the present day novel.
“It was an intellectual exercising, due to the fact this chair is very costly, it has no function It is only for amusement,” Mendini mentioned. “But Pointillism is a actual concept. Because if each level is very good, the whole object is good. Also in society: if each and every person is great, the society is good.”
Mendini’s Crystal Palace wall clocks for Kartell
Born in 1931, Mendini is deemed 1 of the most important living Italian designers and crucial thinkers. He played a essential role in the revitalisation of the country’s design and style scene in the late twentieth century.
He studied architecture at Milan Polytechnic and went on to be an influential figure in the Radical Design and style motion, co-founding experimental outfit Studio Alchimia with Ettore Sottsass.
With its penchant for surface decoration and brilliant colours and its rejection of strict Modernist performance, Studio Alchimia paved the way for the Memphis group – which Sottsass left Studio Alchimia to co-found – and the Postmodern motion.
Mendini edited Casabella magazine from 1970 to 1976, when Radical Design was at its height. His tenure at Modo magazine between 1977 and 1981 coincided with the rise of interdisciplinary style, whilst his editorship at Domus from 1979 to 1985 gave impetus and critical rigour to the Postmodern motion.
“The way of realising the magazines was extremely exact, simply because the style [ideology] was robust,” he said.
Sketch of Mendini’s Roy stools for Kartell
Printed magazines even now have a function to play these days, he stated, but this is a lot more a function of cataloguing what is happening in the layout globe, rather than providing a essential framework.
“Then also there is the crisis of the paper, so for magazines printed on paper, it truly is a quite poor time,” stated Mendini, who briefly returned to Domus as editor in 2010.
He added that despite the fact that he feels digital media is important, he never utilizes it. “I publish with a pencil,” he stated.
Beneath is a transcript of the interview with Mendini:
Marcus Fairs: Inform me about the two merchandise you have developed for Kartell. I comprehend you have been buddies with Kartell president Claudio Luti for a lengthy time.
Alessandro Mendini: I was the editor of a magazine. The title of the magazine was Modo [verify]. The offices of Modo were within the Kartell factory. So for five years I went there every day and I acquired to know all the folks there. And I met the young Claudio Luti there. And then for 30 many years we by no means met once more.
Then some months ago we met in Florence due to the fact I won a prize, and he presented the prize. And he told me we ought to do one thing with each other. So I developed some objects, sketches. We talked about the sketches, he chose the stool and quite, really speedily – also quickly! – we designed it.
Marcus Fairs: Why is it influenced by Roy Lichtenstein?
Alessandro Mendini: Since my way of operating is to locate a romantic relationship with men and women that I like. So for instance, I never know if you know my Proust chair? It has a powerful a relationship with Proust, with Pointillism. So I also like the perform of Roy Lichtenstein. But I am interested also in tradition.
For example the Proust Chair is a Baroque form mixed with Pointillism. Two very diverse scenarios. The form of this stool is Chinese a Chinese ceramic stool. I mixed Lichtenstein and the Chinese stool with each other. It truly is a kind of serious play.
Mendini’s Proust chair, 1978. Image courtesy of Cappellini
Marcus Fairs: Is there an intellectual partnership among Lichtenstein and the Chinese stool? Or is it just for entertaining?
Alessandro Mendini: For me it is not only entertaining, simply because it is a extremely precise approach of operating. I connect shapes with the pattern of painters in a quite methodic way. It truly is a approach.
Marcus Fairs: The Proust chair was revolutionary. Inform me the story of that chair.
Alessandro Mendini: Effectively. It was 1978 and I wanted to realise a extremely enigmatic object: not painting, not industrial style, not sculpture, but one thing quite mixed. I’m actually interested in transforming the objects in novels it is a literary way of carrying out design and style. The objects are like personalities all my objects are like characters. A single is excellent, yet another one is poor. It truly is a sort of comedy and tragedy.
At that time my attention was to feel what could occur if I manufactured a chair for Mr Proust. I developed also a stool for Giotto and a table for van Gogh.
Marcus Fairs: Did you method creating a chair for Proust as a significant, functional task? Or was it an intellectual workout?
Alessandro Mendini: It was an intellectual physical exercise, because this chair is really high-priced, it has no function. It truly is only for amusement. But Pointillism is a real theory. Simply because if every point is good, the entire object is great. Also in society: if every single individual is very good, the society is great. And the Pointillism – I did a lot of function in mosaic. Because you can integrate all the world in this tiny, square piece of glass.
Marcus Fairs: What would Proust say if you gave him the chair?
Alessandro Mendini: [Prolonged pause] Proust did not have excellent taste in furniture.
The Proust chair recreated in marble for an exhibition of items proven by Robot City for the duration of Milan layout week 2014
Marcus Fairs: So would he like it? Or not?
Alessandro Mendini: Perhaps he would like it! [Laughs]
Marcus Fairs: You invested a good deal of time operating on magazines. What is the position of the media in style nowadays? We have digital media internet sites like Dezeen. Men and women are speaking about the death of the critic and the rise of the quick-consideration span due to social media. What is the place of a magazine, of the media, in today’s design world?
Alessandro Mendini: I can reply like this, since I worked for 3 magazines. The initial 1 was Casabella, the 2nd was Modo and the third was Domus. They corresponded to extremely precise ideologies: radical layout at Casabella interdisciplinary at Modo and Postmodernism at Domus. The way of realising the magazines was quite exact, since the layout [ideology] was powerful.
Now there is no far more ideology. All the globe is quite puzzled, all the world is extremely violent. There are too several distinct prospects. So if I would do a magazine now, it would be not possible. Then also there is the crisis of the paper, so for magazines printed on paper, it really is a really bad time. The magazines on paper I feel could now be great paperwork but not in a critical way.
Marcus Fairs: You imply like a catalogue?
Alessandro Mendini: Yes. Which is essential as well.
Marcus Fairs: What do you think about digital media?
Alessandro Mendini: I’m positive it is a quite essential point but I do not use it at all. I create with a pencil.