Studio Alchimia Italian design collaborative

The Proust Geometrica By Alessandro Mendini
The Proust Geometrica By Alessandro Mendini

Studio Alchimia Italian design collaborative located in Milan.

Alessandro Guerriero (b. 1943), an architect, created Studio Alchimia in 1976 as a gallery to show experimental work that was not limited by industrial production. The studio’s allusion to alchemy was meant to ridicule Modernism’s scientific reasoning. With contributions from Ettore Sottsass, Alessandro Mendini, Andrea Branzi, Paola Navone (b. 1950), and Michele De Lucchi, Alchimia developed into an influential design studio. The Bau.Haus 1 and Bau.Haus 2 sets, released in 1978 and 1979, took inspiration and references from popular culture and, essentially, Kitsch.

Mendini became the studio’s most prominent proponent in the 1980s. His reinterpretations of classic furniture, such as Gio Ponti’s Superleggera chair and Marcel Breuer’s Wassily chair, mocked Good Design and, therefore, good taste. The Mobile Infinito series, designed by Mendini in 1981, allowed the consumer to change the location of the applied decorative elements, allowing for more imaginative interaction.

Chiquier Box, single piece 1979 by Studio Alchimia
Chiquier Box, single piece 1979 by Studio Alchimia

Zabro, a furniture manufacturing company, was established in 1984 to bring the New Craft and industry together. The group was tasked with overseeing the art direction for Genoa’s 1985 “Japanese Avant-Garde in the Future” festival. Studio Alchimia’s designs were crucial to the second wave of Italian Radical Design, culminating in the popularisation of Anti-Design in the 1980s.

Sources

Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.

TASCHEN GmbH. (2012). Design of the 20th Century.

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