Atelier Mendini. Le Architetture
The exhibition "Atelier Mendini. Le Architetture" curated by Aldo Colonetti and hosted at La Triennale di Milano is an homage rendered by Abet Laminati to the brothers Alessandro and Francesco Mendini, with whom the company has enjoyed an active working relation with Atelier Mendini for almost 50 years now.
12 April 2018 – 6 May 2018
The manufacturer of high-pressure plastic laminates from Bra, in the Piedmont region, is a long-time partner of the combined worlds of design and architecture. It has given support to artistic movements and stylistic revolutions that have strongly influenced the history of Italian design. This includes the work of Alchimia in the late 1970s, a group of which Alessandro Mendini was a member.
Since then, the collaboration between Abet Laminati and Atelier Mendini has been uninterrupted, resulting in furniture, collections of laminates, and architectural projects in which laminate has a primary role for expressing what was to be "a free and continuous movement of thought". (Manifesto di Alchimia, Alessandro Mendini, 1984). When it was time to decide what angle to give the exhibition whose aim was to illustrate Atelier Mendini's design trajectory and eclectic nature, it was immediately clear that the focus had to be on architecture. Both Mendini brothers trained as architects and architecture is their starting point as well as their horizon. Moreover, Abet Laminati has played a fundamental role in their largest buildings, giving life to the architettura dipinta ("painted architecture") that characterises the entire oeuvre of Alessandro and Francesco Mendini.
The exhibition unites for the first time ever all the public and private buildings created by the Atelier. Twenty-six stunning wooden models are faithful reproductions of as many projects. Thirteen drawings, photographs and videos complete the display. Atelier Mendini's lengthy design trajectory is described by Peter Weiß as a path that "directly involves our sensorial perception by showing decoration, ornament and pictorial surfaces as stylistic elements of painterly poetic architecture. Its unique style and sensorial approach create enchanted surroundings and their visual perception opens a universal cosmos of design."
"Le Architetture" are projects that have flowed forth from the long collaboration and perfectly synchronised dialogue between the Mendini brothers. Together they direct their Atelier much like two talented conductors who know the score by heart, but leave free expression to the members of the band.
One of the buildings that best crystallises their design approach is the Groninger Museum in The Netherlands. It was chosen as the symbol of this exhibition. The complex was a group effort in which Atelier Mendini had the role of guiding the concept and the overall project, but where specific wings were designed by three architects – Michele De Lucchi, Philippe Starck and Coop Himmelb(l)au – and one artist: Frank Stella. All Mendinian stylistic elements and decorations are present in this complex, such as the gold tower and the oversize pointillist Proust pattern, both made using MEG laminate by Abet Laminati.
The exhibition is a celebration of colour, a fundamental element in all of the Atelier's work. It smoothes the corners, dynamises the facades, and sometimes introduces an element of discontinuity with the context. The marvellous wood-and-methacrylate models are impressive for their chromatic richness and the pictorial aspect that characterises those buildings made with Abet laminate such as the Triennale Incheon in South Korea and the Bruno Bianchi swimming pool complex in Trieste, whose external facade takes up the Proust decor.
Especially for this occasion, Atelier Mendini designed the Merletto pattern for Abet Laminati that was digitally printed to create a graphic thread throughout the exhibition. Abet Laminati has once again counted on the artisanal skill of the De Rosso company in working with laminate. With the technical assistance of Sublitex, De Rosso constructed the display at the Triennale.