Poltrona di Proust, 1978
All images courtesy Atelier Mendini
Oggetto Banale Coffee Pot, 1980
Mendini with other Alchimia authors, Mobile Infinito Collection, 1981
Men's Shoes, 1983
Decoration for Renault 5, 1985
Alessandro Mendini in his Black Out installation at the Triennale di Milano, 1984
Zabro, Nuova Alchimia Collection, 1984-85
Cetonia, Nuova Alchimia Collection, 1984-85
Kandissi Sofa, Bau-Haus Collection I, 1979
Mendini with other Alchimia authors, Mobile Infinito Table, 1981
The name Memphis has become a catch-all for radical 1980s design. But we’d like to take a moment to reminisce over Alessandro Mendini’s immense contribution to this iconic era—and his influential role in the design studio that spawned the Memphis phenomenon.
Studio Alchimia was founded in Milan in 1976—prior to the birth of Memphis—amid the “anti-design” (i.e. anti-Bauhaus design) atmosphere that took hold in Milan beginning in the late ’60s. Mendini not only joined the collective’s efforts, but also became its most active and articulate voice. Of course, soon-to-be Memphis star Ettore Sottsass also participated in Alchimia, but these two visionary and outspoken architect-designers began to butt heads over whether they should put their postmodern ideas into production on an industrial scale. Sottsass believed so; Mendini did not. And so they parted ways.
Both Sottsass and Mendini were fighting against the same soullessness they saw in modernist-era design. But Sottsass seems to have become the go-to reference point for this movement. And while we also can’t get enough of Sottsass, one mustn’t forget for a moment the massive imprint Mendini and Alchimia left on our collective design unconscious.
Wava CarpenterAfter studying Design History, Wava has worn many hats in support of design culture: teaching design studies, curating exhibitions, overseeing commissions, organizing talks, writing articles—all of which informs her work now as Pamono’s Editor-in-Chief.
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Sole Wall Clock by Alessandro Mendini for Alessi
Lamp by Alessandro Mendini for Slamp, 2003
Sinerpica Table Lamp by Michele de Lucchi for Alchimia, 1978
Zabro Table-Chair by Alessandro Mendini for Zanotta, 1984
Deriva Copper Hanging Lamp by Alessandro Mendini
Deriva Proust Hanging Lamp by Alessandro Mendini
Deriva Pearl Violet Hanging Lamp by Alessandro Mendini
Deriva Fluorescent Orange Hanging Lamp by Alessandro Mendini
Deriva Decoration 1 Hanging Lamp by Alessandro Mendini
Deriva Decoration 2 Hanging Lamp by Alessandro Mendini
Deriva Decoration 3 Hanging Lamp by Alessandro Mendini