Artist: Enzo Mari

Wright is proud to offer the creations of inimitable Italian designer, critic, and theorist Enzo Mari. His life, work, and teachings were enormously influential in the design world and will continue to impact future generations of makers and thinkers for years to come.
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Upcoming Lots Enzo Mari

A major retrospective of Enzo Mari’s work opened in October of 2020 at the Triennale di Milano just days before Mari passed away. Extended until April of 2021, the exhibition, Enzo Mari curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist with Francesca Giacomelli, explores Mari’s more than 60 year career and includes previously unpublished material from his archive.  

View of the exhibition, Enzo Mari curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist with Francesca Giacomelli

Homage to Autoprogettazione

Enzo Mari provided Artek with a deeper look into his thought-provoking project, the Proposta per un’Autoprogettazione (Proposal for a Self-design) series, in this 2010 documentary.

Design is only design if it communicates knowledge.

Enzo Mari

Mondo Mari

New York-based designer Adam Charlap Hyman describes just a few of his favorite Enzo Mari-designed objects for PIN-UP magazine. From chairs and letter openers to toys and vases, Mari's spare yet playful visual vocabulary is immediately recognizable.

 

Enzo Mari Unfiltered

"Design is dead."

"If someone tells me to be ‘creative’ I just want to give him a punch in the face!"

"Form is everything."

On Ron Arad's Bookworm shelf: "Pure shit. Who cares!"

Enzo Mari 1932–2020

Irascible, polemical, and influential are just a few of the words most commonly associated with Italian artist, designer, critic, and theorist Enzo Mari, who is perhaps most famous for his favorite (and oft-repeated) quote: “Design is dead”. Born and raised in Cerano, a region of Piedmont, Mari moved to Milan in 1947 and worked a variety of jobs before enrolling in the prestigious Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in 1952. He studied art and literature with a specific focus on the psychology of vision, the planning of perceptive structures, and the methodology of design. Not long after graduating he met Bruno Danese, co-founder of the eponymous design brand Danese; it was an encounter that would shape the remainder of Mari’s career.

Danese and Mari both felt strongly that good design should be accessible, economic, and affordable. Mari designed a multitude of creations for the company, including the much admired 16 Animali wooden puzzle. Inspired by his own children as well as his research into Scandinavian toys, it was a toy made from a single piece of oak that, with one continuous cut, came apart into 16 separate animals. Mari went on to conceive of over 1500 designs for many premier Italian design companies including Driade, Artemide, Zanotta and Magis. He also created illustrations, books with Einaudi and Bollati Boringhieri, and works for children. One of his most memorable projects, and the one which best demonstrates his belief that design should be accessible to all, was his Proposta per un’Autoprogettazione (Proposal for a Self-design) series. It consisted of a set of diagrams that allowed anyone to build DIY furniture with cuts of pine and some nails, the instructions for which Mari would mail to anyone who sent him postage.

In addition to being an influential designer, Mari was a radical and revolutionary thinker and artist. An avowed communist, he exhibited 44 sculptures at the 1976 Venice Biennale that formed a hammer and sickle when pieced together. He viewed good design as a maker’s responsibility to their community and as a means to create a better world. Curator Hans Ulrich Obrist recalls that Mari would often exclaim “Merda pura! (Pure shit!)” at openings and shows, critiquing work that he felt fell short of his stringent ideals.

Mari taught at University of Parma, the Accademia Carrara, and the Milan Polytechnic and exhibited his work throughout his career. He was awarded four Compasso d’Oro awards (1967, 1979, 1987, and 2001) and has been honored with multiple retrospective shows in Turin and Milan. Well-known and greatly admired within the design world, he is not as widely known as he should be because, as Obrist explains, “he refused to play the game of galleries, of the commercialization of his designs into fetishes”. Principled to the very end, Mari died of COVID-related complications in 2020, but his legacy lives on in his innumerable contributions to the creative and design industries.

When I create a project I always want it to last for at least 100 years or even 1000 years.

Enzo Mari

Auction Results Enzo Mari

ENZO MARI, Samos centerpiece, model N | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Samos centerpiece, model N

estimate: $7,000–9,000
result: $30,000
ENZO MARI, Samos centerpiece, model O | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Samos centerpiece, model O

estimate: $7,000–9,000
result: $26,250
ENZO MARI, Samos centerpiece, model B | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Samos centerpiece, model B

estimate: $7,000–9,000
result: $25,000
ENZO MARI, Samos centerpiece, model P | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Samos centerpiece, model P

estimate: $7,000–9,000
result: $16,250
ENZO MARI, Samos vase, model Z | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Samos vase, model Z

estimate: $5,000–7,000
result: $13,750
ENZO MARI, Samos vase, model U | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Samos vase, model U

estimate: $5,000–7,000
result: $11,250
ENZO MARI, Samos vase, model W | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Samos vase, model W

estimate: $5,000–7,000
result: $11,250
ENZO MARI, Samos centerpiece, model S | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Samos centerpiece, model S

estimate: $7,000–9,000
result: $8,750
ENZO MARI, Cubos, collection of five | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Cubos, collection of five

estimate: $1,500–2,000
result: $8,125
ENZO MARI, Samos centerpiece, model L | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Samos centerpiece, model L

estimate: $7,000–9,000
result: $7,500
ENZO MARI, Cubos model 3018A, set of four | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Cubos model 3018A, set of four

estimate: $3,000–5,000
result: $6,875
ENZO MARI, chests, pair | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

chests, pair

estimate: $10,000–15,000
result: $6,000
ENZO MARI, Sifnos box, model 3065CB | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Sifnos box, model 3065CB

estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $5,938
ENZO MARI, Rare 16 Animali puzzle, model 3015D | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Rare 16 Animali puzzle, model 3015D

estimate: $1,500–2,000
result: $5,625
ENZO MARI, Sedici Variazioni | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Sedici Variazioni

estimate: $2,500–3,000
result: $5,313
ENZO MARI, Variazione 719 | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Variazione 719

estimate: $5,000–7,000
result: $5,000
ENZO MARI, Cilindro, series L | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Cilindro, series L

estimate: $3,000–5,000
result: $4,688
ENZO MARI, Paros vide poche, model D1 | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Paros vide poche, model D1

estimate: $1,200–1,800
result: $4,063
ENZO MARI, Putrella tray and dish | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Putrella tray and dish

estimate: $50–75
result: $4,063
ENZO MARI, Grande Cubo, series L | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Grande Cubo, series L

estimate: $3,000–5,000
result: $4,063
ENZO MARI, Tortiglione wastepaper basket, model 3083C | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Tortiglione wastepaper basket, model 3083C

estimate: $600–800
result: $4,063
ENZO MARI, Cubos, collection of four | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Cubos, collection of four

estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $4,063
ENZO MARI, Cilindro, series L | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Cilindro, series L

estimate: $3,000–5,000
result: $4,063
ENZO MARI, Oggetto a composizione autocondotta | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Oggetto a composizione autocondotta

estimate: $4,000–6,000
result: $3,750

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