These chairs get around. We first saw them last year at ICFF in New York; now they are on display in Cambridge, Ontario at the Design at Riverside Gallery as part of a retrospective of the more than fifty years of work by Italian designer Enzo Mari.
Some of Enzo Mari's work is ubiquitous to the point of being almost part of the background; I didn't know that the inbox tray on my desk was a Mari design until I saw it at the show.
Every modern office since the sixties had one of these.
By 1999, In Ecolo by Alessi, instead of moulding plastic, Mari is demonstrating how to "turn consumer society waste into beautiful and special objects. An empty shampoo bottle may change into an elegant flower vase. This way design is not just for specialists!"
Sedia chair for Thonet
Mari has written: "For me, each design must be utilitarian, functional and do justice to the materials used as well as those involved in making them."
This exhibition is a remarkable demonstration of how, over 50 years, such an attitude evolved and is reflected in such a vast body of work. The show just closed in Cambridge, but comes to the Italian Cultural Institute in San Francisco in March.