italian artist and designer enzo mari (1932-2020), has passed away today in milan after being hospitalized at the city’s san raffaele hospital. mari was an ideologically-motivated activist who participated in avant-garde movements, bringing in his own reflections and theories.

happy birthday enzo mari! a video conversation and proust questionnaire designboom
video and images © designboom



born in novara, italy on april 27, 1932, enzo mari moved to milan to train as an artist at the brera academy from 1952-1956. initially operating in the field of programmed art, from 1956 onwards, he devoted himself to industrial design. his body of work encompasses over 2,000 projects, delving into its formal and functional qualities as well as its impact on society. his oeuvre ranges from sculpture and painting to graphic design; he was a prolific book author, and a genius creator of allegorical installations.


particularly in his design practice, he elaborated about the game of composing the project, the production, the consumption. the holy trinity of industry. everything is due to her. nothing is out of it…says birgit lohmann, his former student and long time collaborator, co-founder of designboom.

happy birthday enzo mari! a video conversation and proust questionnaire designboom



enzo mari created many self-initiated projects and products for international brands including alessi, artemide, danese, driade, HIDA, KPM, MUJI, zani&zani, zanotta…


his archive*** has been donated to the city of milan, where he worked and lived. about 1,500 projects, documented by technical drawings, models, prototypes, transparencies, drawings, proofs of printing, posters, works of art, photographs, books and catalogues will become part of milan’s civic heritage. it will be hosted at CASVA, centro di alti studi sulle arti visive, established by the city of milan in 1999.


***however, he set a condition of his donation: it should not be shown for 40 years. by the will of mari himself, it will be accessible to the public only in forty years in an attempt to leave a memory, as well as a teaching to future generations and a warning against the manipulatory qualities of marketing. he justifies this by claiming that, according to his most optimistic forecasts, it will take forty years before ‘a new generation that is not as spoiled as today’s’ would be able to make good use of it, taking back control of the profound meaning of things…


some materials from the archive donated to the municipality are currently displayed in the exhibition ‘ENZO MARI CURATED BY HANS ULRICH OBRIST‘ that opened (just a day before his death) on october 17, 2020 at the triennale di milano, with the historical curatorship of francesca giacomelli.