Enzo Mari at the Design Museum

11.04.2024
Maggie Scaife

Enzo Mari at the Design Museum

11.04.2024
Maggie Scaife

The Enzo Mari exhibition at the Design Museum, London explores the democratisation of design by looking at the legacy of one of the most significant Italian designers of the 20th Century.

Mari’s early work features technical precision and lines, however, his transition into fatherhood pushed him towards a much freer flowing state where we see him use more organic, imperfect shapes such as his recognisable fruit and animal motifs.

The show dials into Mari’s sense of playfulness and infantile-like curiosity, inspiring us all to follow suit. For example, his 1976 ‘Living Game’ was designed to encourage children and students to think ‘big’ and gain a better understanding of their function within society.

Ideas of improved functionality and practicality were also explored as Mari progressed in his career, designing impressive domestic products for brands such as Alessi. As one of the first Italian designers to look at ‘throwaway culture’ in the 1960s, his thinking addressed how manufacturers can ensure better quality and timelessness of mass-produced everyday objects. Moving away from trends, he shifted the onus of responsibility for investing in good design onto its users.

The designer showed empathy towards the repetitive nature of workers’ tasks and put their best interests first by streamlining factory production lines. He demonstrated the way objects could look when a people-first approach is taken.

‘Grazie Enzo’ is situated on the first-floor balcony of the museum. It features responses to the designer’s work and influence from next generation talents such as Martino Gamper and Andu Masebo.

Enzo Mari at The Design Museum, London. Until 8 September 2024