Alessandro Mendini and the Ollo collection - Neo-modern domestic monuments

Ollo Table and 4 Chairs Set, Alessandro Mendini, Limited Edition Studio Alchimia
Ollo Table and 4 Chairs Set, Alessandro Mendini, Limited Edition Studio Alchimia


Until 1959, Alessandro Mendini followed the royal path of Italian designers: a Milanese childhood with parents fond of contemporary art, studies of architecture at the Politecnico But he was one of the first to rebel against the diktat of monastic modernism from of "form follows function" According to him, objects and furniture have become too impersonal by dint of being functional He rejects the Bauhaus and its modernist puritanism: "for me, minimalism is a punishment that we inflict on ourselves" Mendini advocates protest design In the 1960s, he invented the concept of Contro-design (Anti-design) which was directly opposed to the logic of industrial production for the greatest number, imposing his fashion on the world Against the industrialization of post-war, he wanted furniture in small series, luxury objects on the borders of art, craftsmanship and industry, paving the way for gallery design. In 1970, he embarked on journalism where he developed his revolutionary ideas. ners He cut his teeth at Casabella then launched Modo before joining Domus magazine, founded by Gio Ponti He became friends with Ettore Sottsass and Michele de Lucchi, who shared the same vision Together, they created the Global Tools collective before joining Alchimia in 1976 From 1974, like an alchemist, he set fire to two Lassù chairs, prefiguring the Alchimia manifesto: he annihilated their primary function and transformed them into altars of design, sculptures celebrating the death of functionalism


According to Charles Zana, "Radicalization first took shape with the Alchimia movement at the end of the 1970s. At that time, men had the intuition to create collections that were not dictated by the market. They deliberately placed outside the canons of good taste" Alchimia, created in Milan in 1976 by Antonio Guerriero, was from its birth an influential collective of designers and theoreticians working to promote the avant-garde, united behind the objective of realizing the most radical concepts According to the group's manifesto, what counts is the very act of "drawing" Branzi, Mendini, de Lucchi and Sottsass join the collective to establish "Nuovo Design", embracing new technologies while playing with shapes and colors, far from modernist functionalism "Alchemy" was not born as an isolated phenomenon, but in a broad cultural context Alchimia positioned itself between the radical anti-consumerist movement of the 1960s and 70s by Archizoom, and the postmodernism of Memphis which, from 1981, will focus on the design of new worlds of objects and visuals Alchimia is a space where radical creatives come together and collaborate, in theory and in practice These designers have different perspectives, but share their interest in "anti-design", rejecting industrialization and the minimalist approach of the great movements of the early 20th century. These idealists shock with their furniture printed with kitsch geometric patterns with punk accents "During 2 years, everyone laughed at us" But Alchimia plays a central role in bringing together design and art For Mendini, all forms have been explored Design is at a creative impasse, decoration has taken over It You have to start all over again With Proust (1978), he took up the lines of a classic shepherdess and added a motif borrowed from the pointillist Paul Signac This "anti-design" manifesto was first made in a main Mendini became the father of post-modernism, embodying experimental design outside of all functionalist rationalism. With his first collections (BauHaus Uno-1979 and Bau. They are also made by hand With Memphis and its large marketable production, Sottsass moves away from "handmade" Mendini acts the rupture: the design must remain romantic


The Ollo collection was partially unveiled during the major international artistic exhibition Documenta 8 in Kassel (Germany) in 1987, then in Milan in 1988

The "Ollo" forms are the expression of a new "pictorial design": Mendini creates a new visual alphabet for objects (furniture, rugs, vases, fabrics, etc.) produced by Alchimia in limited edition Faithful to its manifesto of re- design, Mendini's Ollo creations emerge from universal styles such as Viennese Secession and Art Deco, but aim, with a "futuristic" desire, to cover the universe with signs, including the Olimpico motif

The Ollo table clearly refers to Jean Dunand's games table from 1929, designed for the seamstress Madeleine Vionnet Depending on the placement of the chairs, this table appears in several days When the seats are put away, it appears like a gigantic cube making of her a decorative volume in its own right Each chair has the particularity of being able to be embedded in the table

Text by Antoine Nouvet for Remix Gallery