Enzo Mari, born in Novara in 1932, attended the Academia Brera in Milan, where he studied literature and art. By the end of the 50’s, the self-taught designer was profiling as a rising prodigy collaborating with major Italian names such as Alessi, Driade and Danese. Since then, Mari has been known to be a modernist, furniture couturier. In 1979, the Delfina chair, designed for Driade, won the Italian Compasso d'Oro industrial design award.
Mari’s radical views, deemed communists, kept him ideologically active, and although his models were minimalist, they conveyed his personal ideas that well-designed products should be economically accessible for everyone. In the 70’s, Mari published Autoprogettazione—a guide to making your own furniture from boards and nails. In 2001, Enzo Mari published Progetto e Passione (Project and Passion) which analyses design from a cultural perspective.
Enzo Mari's work evidences the sprout of Italian design that has conquered the world with minimalist, sophisticated interior design since the 60’s—and which tendencies seeped into other industries like fashion, where Georgio Armani introduced a new generation of minimalist fashion featuring neutral, bare colours. With his passing away, Mari's legacy will continue to define modern Italian design.
A major exhibition, curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist (artistic director of Serpentine Galleries) and Francesca Giacomelli, is currently reviewing Mari’s work at the Triennale Milano. From October 17th until April 18, 2021, an array of over 200 pieces using paper, glass, wood, pottery, steel, among others, bears witness to Mari’s approach to design.
+ Words: Alejandra Espinosa, Luxiders Magazine Editor
Liberal Arts graduate | Berlin-based writer
Connect with her on Instagram (@sincosmostura)