The first ever UK museum exhibition devoted to one of the most significant designers of the 20th century will open at the Design Museum this spring.
The 60-year career of designer Enzo Mari — a pioneer of post-war Italian design — will be spotlit in a new exhibition that will include the full spectrum of Mari’s prolific output, from his work as a designer, but also as an artist, teacher, critic and theorist. In total, more than 300 objects will be on display — most have not been seen in the UK before.
The exhibition is coming to the UK after debuting at Triennale Milano in 2020, just before Mari’s death, aged 88. He is remembered as a “giant” of Italian design and a figure whose life and work has inspired generations of creatives around the world.
The vast array of works that visitors will see spans the spheres of art, design, exhibition and graphic design. Hundreds of Mari’s projects will be examined, ranging from furniture to conceptual installation-based works, and from product design to graphics. Also on show will be his children’s books and games, which were an important aspect of Mari’s output as in his vast creative field, he considered the needs of children just as important as those of adults.
Archival material throughout the show will provide greater insight into Mari’s research process, and the key principles that guided and unified his work.
During his long career, many of Mari’s timeless designs went on to fill homes across the globe, as they continue to do to this day. They include his ‘Nature Series’ prints of apples and pears, perpetual calendars in injection moulded plastic, and timeless furniture and kitchenware.
Known for his uncompromising beliefs and subversive opinions, Mari has been described as ‘design’s conscience’. His stance was one of activism, calling for a greater social responsibility in design, and access to knowledge. His durable, low-cost and multifunctional objects speak to these beliefs, as do his broader installation-based works.
In a first for the Design Museum, this major exhibition will be accompanied by an additional free display on the museum’s balcony, allowing all visitors to be able to discover Mari’s enduring influence. Thirteen London-based, contemporary designers will display select pieces of their work which demonstrate how Mari’s thinking or his legacy has inspired their practice.
Tickets have gone on sale today ahead of the exhibition opening in March.