Alessandro Mendini
The pantheistic of vision
G. T., December 8, 2008
Alessandro Mendini_Groninger Museum
Alessandro Mendini_Groninger Museum
G.T.: Well, in this sense, you have always worked with an alphabet of signs, with a certain consistency. They still apply, you still apply them, they’re important, essential...

A.M.: Yes, the way I work is through alphabets of symbols, which means that I simulate, I pretend that design is literature. And so I write: I write it in symbols representing aesthetic events, emotional events, geometric events, events in content. I use a lot of alphabets, interwoven; this is the way I do things. The way I handle design is linked with the symbol, which leads to decoration. It’s as if I put a novel on objects. I tend to make objects into stories.

Alessandro Mendini/Alessandro Mendini_Fauteuil de Proust, 2001(designed en 1978)
Alessandro Mendini/Alessandro Mendini_Fauteuil de Proust, 2001(designed en 1978)
G.T.: I’d like to ask Alessandro Mendini: at this time when we seem to have buried our ideologies, including design ideologies, it seems that ideas are having more and more success. People are hungry for ideas. What kind of idea of design can a person have today? And then perhaps these ideologies actually still exist...

Alessandro Mendini: Ideologies as defined in the dictionary no longer exist. That kind of definition applies to a utopia linked with a certain content. Of course there are lots of ideas, but what is questionable is their quality and what they’re aiming for. Because sometimes ideas can be very mundane, completely ephemeral, linked with needs, with the desire for change at any cost. I think that having too many ideas is a mistake.

G.T.: This question leads me directly to another one: you once called yourself a "magazine designer". Magazines today if today you had to make a magazine about design, how would you do it? Let me remind our readers that you have been editor-in-chief of Modo, Casabella and Domus, not necessarily in that order... and of other rather experimental magazines too.

A.M.: Yes, it’s true, magazines have been a very important part of my life. They have responded to ideologies. Those were ideological magazines. Nowadays magazines are no longer ideological, they are major media which are necessary and very useful. I read lots of them, but let me say that this overdose of information can give us indigestion. We get a bit fed up with them. There is no magazine like the one I would produce today if I had to. Because I wouldn’t know how to do it now, I wouldn’t even want to do it. But if I had to make a magazine, I would make a holistic one. That is, one about events on a larger scale than design, aiming for a sort of pantheistic vision, in a very, very broad sense.

Alessandro Mendini/Design Museum_Mikiolone
Alessandro Mendini/Design Museum_Mikiolone
G.T.: In a recent interview with RAI television anchorman Fabio Fazio, well-known journalist Giorgio Bocca said that what newspapers and the press in general do nowadays is not publishing but advertising. You have worked a lot with companies that were and are advertisers in these magazines. What kind of relationship do you have with the world of business, and with the opportunities that these "new publishers" have to offer this world?

A.M.: In our profession, in architecture and design, advertising is, in quotes, “beautiful”. There’s rhetoric about the beautiful. Especially in automobile advertising. Automobiles come out of the sky, they’re ultra-shiny, everything they do is good¿

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