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.

Auction Results Enzo Mari

ENZO MARI, Cubos, collection of five | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Cubos, collection of five
estimate: $1,500–2,000
result: $8,125

ENZO MARI, chests, pair | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

chests, pair
estimate: $10,000–15,000
result: $6,000

ENZO MARI, Variazione 719 | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Variazione 719
estimate: $5,000–7,000
result: $5,000

ENZO MARI, Putrella tray and dish | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Putrella tray and dish
estimate: $50–75
result: $4,063

ENZO MARI, Variazione 719 | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Variazione 719
estimate: $3,000–5,000
result: $3,750

ENZO MARI, Cubos, set of two | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Cubos, set of two
estimate: $500–700
result: $2,500

ENZO MARI, Paros-D1 bowl | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Paros-D1 bowl
estimate: $500–700
result: $2,125

ENZO MARI, Cubo | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Cubo
estimate: $300–500
result: $1,750

ENZO MARI, Cubos, pair | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Cubos, pair
estimate: $300–500
result: $1,625

ENZO MARI, Day-Night daybed | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Day-Night daybed
estimate: $700–900
result: $1,625

ENZO MARI, Formosa and Timor calendars | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Formosa and Timor calendars
estimate: $200–300
result: $875

ENZO MARI, 16 Animali puzzle | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

16 Animali puzzle
estimate: $500–700
result: $813

ENZO MARI, Box chair | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Box chair
estimate: $300–500
result: $780

ENZO MARI, Cubo | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Cubo
estimate: $100–150
result: $750

ENZO MARI, Pago Pago and Bambu vases | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Pago Pago and Bambu vases
estimate: $50–75
result: $750

ENZO MARI, 16 Animali puzzle | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

16 Animali puzzle
estimate: $200–300
result: $720

ENZO MARI, La Pantera and Il Gorilla (from the Serie della Natura) | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

La Pantera and Il Gorilla (from the Serie della Natura)
estimate: $700–900
result: $715

ENZO MARI, 16 Animali puzzle | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

16 Animali puzzle
estimate: $300–500
result: $688

ENZO MARI, Paros D1 vessel | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Paros D1 vessel
estimate: $500–700
result: $625

ENZO MARI, 16 Pesci puzzle | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

16 Pesci puzzle
estimate: $200–300
result: $600

ENZO MARI, 16 Pesci puzzle | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

16 Pesci puzzle
estimate: $500–700
result: $594

ENZO MARI, Tonietta chair | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Tonietta chair
estimate: $100–150
result: $594

ENZO MARI, Danese poster | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

Danese poster
estimate: $100–200
result: $500

ENZO MARI, 16 Pesci puzzle | wright20.com

Enzo Mari

16 Pesci puzzle
estimate: $500–700
result: $455