Mendini’s World: Groninger Museum Opens a Massive Exhibition on the Late Architect-Designer

Organized by Alessandro Mendini himself, the showcase includes work by his contemporaries and is staged in a building he helped design.

Objects by the late Alessandro Mendini will be shown through May 5, 2020, in the Groninger Museum, designed in part by Mendini in 1994. Courtesy Carlo Lavatori/Alessandro Medini Archive

In the Dutch city of Groningen, soft pink walls will guide patrons throughout the Groninger Museum to sample the sweet confections of Mondo Mendini: The World of Alessandro Mendini, a showcase of art and artifacts organized by the late designer and architect himself. The roughly 200 items—70 of which are from artists contemporaneous with the Italian luminary or otherwise linked to him—include architectural models, furniture, works of industrial design, jewelry, paintings, and sculpture. Visitors meandering through the east pavilion—another Mendini creation—will experience the exhibition as the designer intended: It was one of his final creative endeavors before his death this year.

But the organization of Mondo Mendini is in stark contrast to that of a traditional survey. “The works by Mendini and the other artists will all be juxtaposed without chronological order and without a clear ‘educational program,’ ” says the museum’s curator of modern art, Ruud Schenk. “It will be a visually rich, quite dazzling labyrinth.” A lack of delineation between “high” and “low” art at the show aims to celebrate design regardless of provenance, form, or genre. This anti-narrative reflects Mendini’s eclectic work, heterogeneous influences, and humble design philosophy. Of the exhibition concept Mendini wrote, “Aesthetic sense plays the arts as its instrument, and ethic sense takes on the dismantling of rhetoric, privileges and fake legends.”

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Categories: Cultural Architecture, Design