born 1932 in Novara, is often referred to as ‘la coscenza del design’: the conscience of Italian design. From the 1950s on, Mari – as an artist and a designer – has sought not only for the perfect solution regarding form but also for answers to social and political questions. What does society need? By engaging with these questions, he does not prioritize the aesthetic preferences of individual groups, but rather focusses on fundamental societal desiderata which a designer needs to recognize in his role as the creator of a better future.

Mari began his serial work when he was still a student at the Milan Art Academy. His first projects were located within the medium of painting. In the late 1950s, he explored the possibilities of spatial experience under changing light conditions and different viewer perspectives through creating three-dimensional objects which he exhibited at ‘Arte programmata’ in 1962 and the ‘New Tendencies’ exhibition in Zagreb in 1963. The Mieke and Jan Teunen collection includes the outstanding art object ‘Quattro spirali’, which exemplifies Mari’s investigations into the area of visual-spatial experience, a multiple with the title ‘Oggetto a composizione autocondotta’, as well as spherical and cubic objects made of synthetic resin.

In his designs for everyday objects such as the containers ‘Citera’ or the penholder ‘Malta’, Enzo Mari followed the credo of creating objects with shapes that appear as simple as possible and whose technique and function adheres to an elemental formal system. Another element that informed his work was to keep production costs as low as possible in order to make his designs available to a broad clientele. The umbrella stand ‘Celebes’, for example, consists of a simple PVC cylinder. Mari almost never displays plastic as colourful. Rather, the designer references classical forms or archetypal nature forms such as the vases in the ‘Bambù’ and ‘Tortiglione’ series.

Mari has been particularly successful in his work as a theorist and as a designer of books, book covers and exhibition concepts – including his work for Danese who showcase various multiples and everyday objects in their Milan showrooms in innovative ways.

Objects by Enzo Mari