The best way to visit the exhibition Marco Zanuso and Alessandro Mendini. Design and architecture (at ADI Design Museum from 8 March to June 12) is to think of it as a website, one of those well done. That is as a story that can be read from multiple points of view, taking the end as a starting point or starting from the canonical entrance, passing from one theme to another and from one discipline to another - as is done with hyperlinks - without ever losing the sense of the whole. Which is twofold.
On the one hand, in fact, the exhibition tells us that the essence of Italian design lives through its two souls: the artistic-rebel, embodied by Alessandro Mendini, and the exquisitely industrial , from Marco Zanuso. On the other hand, it translates the desire of ADI - which at the time of post-modernism of which Mendini was a great representative was mainly focused on industrial design - to recognize the fundamental role of the Maestro's poetics, focused on storytelling, in the contemporary world.
In the words of Luciano Galiberti, ADI President: "Marco Zanuso has won 7 compassi d'oro President of ADI and has guided its development for years. Mendini, whose work was in any case recognized with 2 compassi d'oro, represented instead that drive towards narrative design whose scope perhaps escaped the times but which is now totally incorporated into the Italian design, poised between industrial production and small series. The two Masters represented two ways of designing which at the time seemed opposed but were not (as can be seen from the research work presented by this exhibition). And which, in fact, have merged into the contemporaneity we live now".
"Going beyond the same Italian context" underlines Pierluigi Nicolin, curator, "we can see how the 'strong' modernist themes like Zanuso and the postmodernist ones' weak 'to Mendini are based on the ability to invalidate the premises from which they start and, in particular 'sentimental journey 'that unites them, to see how each ends up by denying in its own way the existence of an impassable border to their own experience".
Curated by Pierluigi Nicolin, the exhibition is the result of a multi-handed work . The curation of the sections dedicated to the Masters was entrusted to Nina Bassoni (Mendini) and Gaia Piccarolo (Zanuso). Maite Garcìa Sanchis took care of the scientific coordination, she edited the section Portraits. The exhibition project is by Studio Nicolin in collaboration with Maite Garcìa Sanchis and Leonardo Sonnoli (who, together with Irene Bianchi) also took care of the graphics and communication.
The exhibition is divided into twelve chapters, symmetrically divided into six plus six, which develop along the central space of the museum. Comfort, New Aesthetics, Grand Staircase, Modular Construction, Innovation and Stone Walls the sections dedicated to Marco Zanuso; Alchemies, GlobalToys, Decorations, Museums, Houses, Text and Image those dedicated to Alessandro Mendini.
The exhibition runs along the central axis , with the works of the Masters displayed on the right and left, or on the sides (where you can find further information on the issues dealt with on the decumanus). The interplay of references between the section dedicated to Mendini and that dedicated to Zanuso is continuous : interesting, sometimes amusing, often surprising.
At the end of the path, a special installation in the spaces dedicated to the Compasso d'Oro Lifetime Achievement awards, where two episodes offer both the view of the iconic portraits by Roberto Sambonet, and a synthesis of the life and works of the two protagonists .
The display is also particularly interesting, with its flat-pack aesthetics and functionality (it is reusable and customizable for other exhibitions to come): full and empty blocks made of veneered panels on which place the objects and print the images and texts. The latter are not to be understood as 'explanations' of the products on display when they are elements of the story themselves, in a decidedly contemporary unicum that transforms the exhibition into a communication tool.
The installation was designed to be particularly captivating when the daylight fades and the lighting design (by Artemide) highlights the works and the path.
Marco Zanuso and Alessandro Mendini. Design and architecture. At the ADI Design Museum from 8 March to 12 June.
Cover photo: © Martina Bonetti