A view on the immensity
G. T., October 27, 2008
Enzo Mari/Enzo Mari_Hida.
Enzo Mari/Enzo Mari_Hida.
G.T.: Well, it's implicit 

Enzo Mari: It's no coincidence that I was successful with these items. That was my express intention from the time I was 24 or 25 years old, as I looked around at the market, because there were already a lot of design products available. Observing with horror the formalism, the stupidity of those products and realizing immediately that they were simply merchandise, ordinary goods for sale, I pledged to myself at the time that I would do my utmost to understand the nature of form. I looked at the form of the ancient classical world. 
Back then I tried on my own by means of a process of self-education, seeking out various different masters, the artists themselves. 
I did not look at them as models to be formally imitated because it would have seemed silly to me, a question of neoclassical replication... These masters helped me when it came to understanding how someone could open a window onto the infinite.
 During this period I tried to get to the bottom of the mystery regarding the duration of form. And I realized that in order for a form to endure, I had to negate all the mundane silliness, the contingencies of today; I had to question it. 
I would say that in all my work the overarching effort involved a quest for dignity, to be able to make something that represents, indeed, provides dignity for me and for other people. So, all of these objects, like everything else I ever designed - and I was frequently unsuccessful - I approached with the deliberate intention of making them so that they would not age. 
In certain cases I was luckier than in others. I'm referring to when I was able to work with a manufacturer who in some way shared my vision. And that was, indeed, a great stroke of luck. The rest of the time my efforts involved a grueling process of negotiation in which I was aware that I had to turn out a product that was sellable. I am also aware of the fact that by eliminating all the frills from the things I design that I am able to elevate them to an elite plane. 

Enzo Mari/Enzo Mari_Hida.
Enzo Mari/Enzo Mari_Hida.
G.T.: I would like to ask one last question about the current situation in architecture. You have worked on architectural projects, so I would like to hear your opinion of contemporary architecture, in other words, what you think it is or should be.

Enzo Mari:
I need to expand the scope of this discussion a little, if we want to talk about architecture and address the success of Italian design. This success came about because the Italians used to be good. This is no longer the case, but up until the Seventies the Italian designers were truly the best in the world.
Earlier I cited the pioneers of design, before citing the pioneer artists, explaining that they were architects. These architects were permeated with the utopian ideas espoused by the Modern Movement, according to which invention was only an invention of the following type... compared with the Chippendale tables, the other tables, coffee tables and chairs that have always been built, where the legs of the tables and the chairs as well as the backs of the chairs have always symbolically represented the shapes of a goat's feet, acanthus leaves or the heads of lions and angels.
 The disciples of the Modern Movement declared an end to this sort of obsessive repetition, an end to l'art pompier, a pejorative term for academic art that was coined in France by the early avant-garde movements, against the hebephrenic realism that tended to automatically repeat things in a senseless manner. This is the background out of which design developed; it wasn't the new technologies, that's all just nonsense.

Enzo Mari/Enzo Mari_Hida.
Enzo Mari/Enzo Mari_Hida.
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