Enzo Mari is one of the people we have to thank for Italian design’s world prominence since World War II. His designs have always combined playfulness, practicality, and the unparalleled elegance of simplicity, all driven by an eagerness to work with new and old materials alike. Even as you admire their sculptural line and their machine-like logic you have to lift and fondle them like toys. Some of them are toys; Mari’s designs for kids’ books and objects themselves constitute a minor revolution in design for children. Similarly, the Pop brightness and futuristic stylizations of his designs for adults – for the workplace, for the home, for the kitchen, for the body – underscore rather than obscure their almost addictive usefulness. Like his countrymen, Milan-basaed Mari loves to play with and re-think ordinary objects; unlike so many of them, he is taken less with his own cleverness than with the magic of objecthood itself. A selection of about 60 Mari designs fills the Istituto Italiano di Cultura.
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