My story with Mario Bellini goes back to the 80s. On June 25th, 1987, a month before the birth of my sons, I attended the opening of his retrospective at MoMA. It was a big deal because Bellini was the first living designer, after Charles Eames, to be asked to design his own exhibition at the Museum. I was young and design was not my profession in those days, but I clearly remember that experience as shaping my idea about design and about his power to make life more interesting, more beautiful, more inspiring. I immediately rushed to Rosenthal, and acquired a service of his white Cupola, which has served us as a family in the years to come. It was so cutting edge and special, that as it made us feel that we lived in style. It is still as fresh 30-something years later as it was then. I had the privilege to spend this morning with Bellini as his breathtaking house, and to talk about what we love and about the intellectual content of his work. I have found so many common chords, and not only because I love his taste and can easily connect to the classical language of his work, to the timeless, to the sophisticated minimalism, but the most substantial ground is the love for history, the constant connection to history, the faith in history to become an agent for new design and architecture. It would be impossible to list all of Bellini’s innovations, because he pioneered so many aspects, chapters, and the philosophy of design which has brought Italy to the forefront of the design world, which have placed him in the exclusive club of the heroes of Italian design. Together with Ponti, Mollino, and Scarpa. He pioneered office systems; transparent furniture; the first designed portable music player; the first designed computer (for Olivetti); the first plastic chair; and the list seems endless. I loved hearing about his travels throughout the USA, of which first trip from coast to coast he documented in a photographic book, coincided with his participation in MoMA's seminal show of 1972, and his accurate observation about the uniqueness of American culture. Architects, he says, have the advantage of thinking globally, and therefore, their products are distinguished. This modern practice, which was mastered by Le Corbusier, Otto Wagner, Alva Aalto, Mies, Gio Ponti, where architects design furniture, and successfully, is a narrative in which he belongs. Spending one Milanese morning with Mario Bellini has certainly was one of the highlights of this visit.
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