Enzo Mari

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Enzo Mari
Enzo Mari 1974.jpg
Enzo Mari in his studio in Milan, 1974
Born(1932-04-27)27 April 1932
Died19 October 2020(2020-10-19) (aged 88)
(m. 1978)

Enzo Mari (27 April 1932[1][2] – 19 October 2020) was an Italian modernist artist and furniture designer who is known to have influenced many generations of industrial designers.[3][4]

Early life and education[edit]

Mari was born in Novara, Italy, and he studied at the Brera Academy in Milan, Italy from 1952 to 1956.[5]


He drew inspiration from the idealism of the arts and crafts movement and his political views as a communist.[6]

From 1956 onward, he specialized in industrial design and created a portfolio of more than 2,000 works.[5] In the 1960s, he published a series of books with his then-wife Iela Mari, including "The Apple and the Butterfly," a book of illustrations depicting the story of a caterpillar and an apple, without any text.[7]

In the 1970s as a professor at The Humanitarian Society, he founded the Nuova Tendenza art movement in Milan.[8] Also in that decade, he designed the Sof Sof chair[9] and the "Box" chair.[10] In 1974, in reaction to the mass production of furniture, Enzo Mari created a book entitled, Autoprogettazione, which deals with the DIY construction of furniture and provides plans and instructions on how to create 19 items of furniture from ubiquitous materials.[11][12] In the 1980s, he designed the modernist Tonietta chair.[13]

Mari also taught at University of Parma, the Accademia Carrara, and the Milan Polytechnic.[8]

Multiple works by Mari have been on display at the Museum of Modern Art.[14] He had retrospective shows in Turin,[15] and an important presentation of his work in the "Adhocracy" show, during the first Istanbul Design Biennial. In addition, the Triennale, Milan is exhibiting a tribute to Mari, curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist with Francesca Giacomelli.[16]

He donated the archive of his designs to the city of Milan on the condition that it may not be displayed for 40 years.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Mari married children's book illustrator Iela Mari in 1955; they had two children.[17]

He married art critic, theoretician and performance artist Lea Vergine,[18] in 1978. They had known each other since the 1960s.[19] He died from COVID-19 on 19 October 2020, at the age of 88, during the COVID-19 pandemic in Italy.[20] His wife died a day later, also from COVID-19.[21]


  • "autoprogettazione?", 1974

Awards and recognition[edit]

Selected quotes[edit]

  • "Form is everything."[6]
  • "Design is dead."[6]
  • "I want to create models for a different society."[25]


  1. ^ Moliterno, Gino (11 September 2002). Encyclopedia of Contemporary Italian Culture. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-134-75877-7.
  2. ^ "ENZO MARI". Avantgarde Museum.
  3. ^ Green, Penelope, Enzo Mari, Industrial Designer Who Kept Things Simple, Dies at 88, The New York Times, October 30, 2020
  4. ^ Basciano, Oliver, Enzo Mari Obituary, The Guardian, November 1, 2020
  5. ^ a b c "enzo mari has died aged 88". Design Boom. 19 October 2020. Retrieved 22 October 2020.
  6. ^ a b c Rawsthorn, Alice (2 October 2008). "Enzo Mari: A rebel with an obsession for form". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
  7. ^ "The Apple and the Butterfly". Present & Correct. Archived from the original on 29 March 2009.
  8. ^ a b "Enzo Mari". Centre for Art and Media Karlsruhe. Retrieved 22 October 2020.
  9. ^ "Sof Sof Chair". MoMA Catalog. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
  10. ^ ""Che fare" by Enzo Mari and Gabriele Pezzini". Design Addcit. Archived from the original on 4 July 2017. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
  11. ^ "Enzo Mari's Autoprogettazione". Archived from the original on 4 February 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2012.
  12. ^ Magazine, Wallpaper* (7 October 2009). "Enzo Mari's Autoprogettazione Revisited, London". Wallpaper*. Retrieved 18 May 2022.
  13. ^ "MoMA: Tonietta Chair". MoMA Catalog. MoMA. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
  14. ^ "Works on Display: Enzo Mari". NYMOMA Catalog. NYMOMA. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
  15. ^ "Enzo Mari: A view on the immensity". Ego Design. Archived from the original on 18 May 2012. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
  16. ^ "Enzo Mari curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist with Francesca Giacomelli | Triennale Milano". www.triennale.org (in Italian). Retrieved 22 October 2020.
  17. ^ "Iela Mari, il nostro saluto". web.archive.org. 3 February 2014. Retrieved 24 April 2023.
  18. ^ Green, Penelope (3 November 2020). "Enzo Mari, Industrial Designer Who Kept Things Simple, Dies at 88". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 March 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  19. ^ Hilburg, Jonathan (20 October 2020). "Italian design legend Enzo Mari dies, a day before his wife, Lea Vergine". The Architect’s Newspaper. Retrieved 22 October 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  20. ^ Morto Enzo Mari, icona del design italiano e mondiale (in Italian)
  21. ^ Morta Lea Vergine, la critica d'arte scompare il giorno dopo suo marito Enzo Mari: era ricoverata con lui in ospedale (in Italian)
  22. ^ a b c d "Enzo Mari e il compasso d'oro". Floor Nature (in Italian). 21 June 2011. Retrieved 22 October 2020.
  23. ^ "Current Honorary Royal Designers". May 2008. Archived from the original on 20 November 2008. Retrieved 22 October 2020.
  24. ^ "Addio a Enzo Mari, maestro del design". Adnkronos (in Italian). Retrieved 22 October 2020.
  25. ^ "ENZO MARI Edition | CUCULA".