╳ Alessandro Mendini And Bisazza

 After a nearly two-month hiatus (all will be revealed over the forthcoming weeks) Thread Count Lab is back online, and what better way to kick off then celebrating the work of iconic Italian designer Alessandro Mendini? Architect, artist, designer, writer and theoretician Signore Mendini is deemed a design icon not only in his native Italy, but all over the world.

Born in Milan, 1931, the young Mendini dreamt of becoming a cartoonist or a painter, but then switched his interests onto architecture. In 1973 he co-founded the counter-design group Global Tools and throughout the 1970s directed different architecture and design magazines, including Casabella, Modo and Domus. In 1979, he joined the legendary Studio Alchimia, developing experimental works and reinterpreting design classics, and 10 years later he opened (with his brother) the Milan-based Atelier Mendini, a studio focused on creating objects, furniture, paintings, installations and architecture. Mendini collaborated throughout his life with different design companies, among them Alessi, Philips, Cartier, Swatch, Hermès, Venini and Zanotta.

The designer recently presented his latest works at Milan’s Triennale an exhibition celebrating his 30th anniversary with Bisazza, a leading Italian manufacturer of tesserae for mosaics. Mendini used Bisazza mosaics for the first time in 1989 in one of his works entitled ‘Paradise Tower in Hiroshima’ and up until then mosaics were mainly employed for mosques and swimming pools, but Mendini turned this traditional material into a modern feature, using it for interior design projects. Appointed Bisazza Art Director in 1996, Mendini curated in the same year the ‘Artinmosaico’ exhibition in Naples, inviting Italian and international artists to use Bisazza tiles to create piece of furniture and objects.

The pieces showcased at the Triennale exhibition display a sort of ‘Gulliver syndrome’ that prompted Mendini to play with proportions, creating dimensional paradoxes: a jacket, a shoe, a glove and a classic Borsalino hat: elements borrowed from a man’s wardrobe, were decorated with hand-cut 24-karat gold leaf mosaics and magnified, turned into monumental pieces of furniture via an alchemical process; a church preserving inside the sculpture ‘Visage Archaïque’ and wearing a gold Cartier necklace, was instead shrunk, while a video installation focused on the three-metre high version of the 1978 ‘Proust Armchair’ covered in colourful tesserae that evoked the style of Georges Seurat and Paul Signac’s pointillisme paintings.