STORIES OF DESIGN

Mario Bellini

Defining design would be trivial

Points of contact with the Salone del Mobile during the career of an architect and designer are inevitable, be they direct or indirect: “I believe that they are interdependent on each other in part.”

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The scandal over the original Donna Jordan (Andy Warhol’s model) Le Bambole poster at the 1972 Salone, showing her half-naked, subsequently censured with a strip of black tape, has become a historical anecdote that makes even the most moralist of people smile.

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As it happens, Mario Bellini is particularly fond of the Le Bambole series (C&B Italia 1972, Compasso d’Oro 1978, republished B&B Italia, 2007), “because they marked the passage from the designer/producer context to that of the relationship with the wider public.”

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Designer and entrepreneur: an important combination: “Normally they need each other. Sometimes, which is a good thing, their relationship is ‘asymmetrical’ and so becomes very interesting, generating innovation and forward leaps.”

How to define design? “It would be trivial, and anyway anyone who has tried to do so has ended up verging on the obvious, the banal and sometime the ridiculous.” It proves equally impossible for Bellini to imagine the way forward for design, because “I don’t like playing ‘the futurologist’”.

Do you design things that haven’t yet occurred to other people or would you rather go for a sure- fire success? “That’s a question I’ve never asked myself”, just like the one about what you need to do to become a good designer: “Nothing, just ‘be’ one.”