Flawless legend: In memory of Alessandro Mendini
Bisazza, Alessi, Kartell, Cappellini - the list of manufacturers where the master of “banal design“ and eclectic creations has immortalized himself could be continued. Throughout his life, the Italian designer, architect and publicist Alessandro Mendini has experimented, provoked and embodied youthfulness like no other in his profession. He has now died at the age of 87 in his hometown Milan. For us an occasion to look at what remains. For example, the spark that always seemed to jump over at a meeting with him. We have asked e15 art director Farah Ebrahimi to tell us about her special encounter with the “Maestro“, as she calls him:
Meeting Alessandro Mendini is one of those profound and unforgettable experiences that I will not forget. He stopped by our fair stand in Cologne, 2017 with then A&W chief editor Gabriele Thiels. A soft-spoken man, fragile with age yet with a piercing and charming gaze. Mendini wanted to see every single detail that day. I remember that we also exchanged some thoughts on the enduring mark of Italian and German approaches to design. It goes without saying that besides Mr Mendini’s prolific work in architecture, industrial design and writings, his sartorial style very much informed his spirit and character to the outside world. Alessandro Mendini was one of the most impeccably styled architects I’ve ever met. On that particular day, he wore a classic navy gangster stripe suit, over a bright red ‘grandpa’ cardigan and white buttoned up shirt - very Comme des Garçons! We finished the tour of the fair stand at the foot of the “MO“ bed, designed by Philipp Mainzer. When I lamented over a court case and copies of e15 furniture, typical of his personality, he didn’t offer any fatherly advise, he only smiled and held my hands. In final, when I asked to take a photo together, he jokingly suggested that we should both lay resting on the bed for our big picture! We ended up posing at the foot of the bed, both our hands crossed as instructed by the maestro.
At last, in the fast changing world of design it can be a grounding moment to meet a true legend, and be reminded that Alessandro Mendini built his career one step at a time, with so much thoughtfulness, humanity, hard work and humour.