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A view on the immensityDuring the anthological exhibition of his works at GAM in Turin entitled "Enzo Mari: the art of design", G. T. interviews Enzo Mari. The interview reveals the consistency of Enzo Mari’s ideas about design, the significant transition from art to design, his considerations regarding goods and the market, and finally, his attitudes toward ecology and ethics, relating design to the most controversial issues of the day.
G. T., October 27, 2008
G. T., October 27, 2008
Enzo Mari. The art of design
G.T.: In October Turin's Galleria di Arte Moderna will host the inauguration of an exhibition entitled, "Enzo Mari: l'arte del design". Well, the first question inevitably regards the subtitle: the art of design.
Enzo Mari: First of all, let me explain a few things. I want to do this because my approach to whatever I do has always been to negate that which I don't like within the confines of the issues I am dealing with. At this moment I find myself in a strange situation in which all the implications of design, from the pioneering ones of the Thirties to what was happening in Italy in the Fifties and Sixties have gradually faded and for the most part fallen into decline. All of the indications have been lost. But they were not lost in the schools. Here they continue to repeat explanations that were never really understood. Other explanations no longer correspond to the effective realities of the work and of the market. In recent years, within the context of this ignorance, especially on the part of the commercial interests, followed by those of the designers themselves, which is a consequence, design has become a sort of decorative appendage of the fashion world, something to be purchased quite apart from considerations of its profound meanings. In this situation - everyone is aware of the production crisis that has made itself felt with particular vengeance in Italy - one realizes that the object of design can no longer be contemplated in terms of large numbers.
That is, an object that is manufactured in the hope that a large number of people will purchase it. An object of design will never enter the homes or even the aspirations of people who have a monthly income of one, two or three thousand euros. It costs too much due to fact that it is distributed through venues, stores that cost a lot of money to operate. They are located in the fashionable downtown districts of the cities and they have to be fitted out attractively. This tends to double, triple, quadruple, even multiply tenfold the cost of distribution. Over the last twenty years, one has seen that objects of this type fail to satisfy commercial goals because the marketing methods adopted are similar to those used by art galleries. Many businesses that ten or twenty years ago denied this proposition, have realized the error of their ways. Accordingly, they are now promoting, demanding objects that display all the characteristics of an object of art, i.e. something that can be produced on a one-of-a-kind basis, or, at most, in two or three very limited-editions. This approach also involves the ignorance of the designers.
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