The Italian architect and designer Alessandro Mendini died on Monday at the age of 87. He was the head architect of the Groninger Museum, which opened in 1994.
Translation by Thomas Ansell
The Groninger Museum, now an icon of the city, was created by four separate architects and designers, with Mendini as head of a team that included Philippe Starck, Michele de Lucchi, and the Austrian design cooperative Coop Himmelb(l)au, so reports the Groninger Internet Courant. Mendini’s master-stroke in the project was the huge yellow tower, housing the entrance to the museum, as well as his overall co-ordination of the project.
Mendini was active as an architect for 60 years, but his interests and roles included product design and graphic design. His career writing on architecture was also incredibly broad, encompassing design theory and the development of both the Postmodern and Radical schools of architectural thought.
Alessandro Mendini was born in 1931, and was a multi-faceted talent. He studied architecture at the Politecnico di Milano, before becoming a world-renowned architect, design theorist, and writer. He also contributed and edited several design-led titles, where his ideas about art and architecture were espoused. In 1977, Mendini was one of the founders of Alchimia, an avant-garde designers group.
Following a large donation, the Groninger Museum sought to build a new structure, to be opened in 1994. An exhibition of Mendini’s work was presented in 1988, where his versatility came to the fore, and both the public and the museum leaders became convinced of his suitability to lead the project. He was then named head architect of the new museum building.
Mendini approached the new undertaking with surgical precision. He noted that the new museum building was to become the new heart of Groningen, and a new centre for the decorative arts, that would push the city forward.
In a statement the current director of the Groningen Museum, Andreas Blühm, said about the death of Mendini: ‘With his fantastic, timely design for our museum, he created a second icon for Groningen.’ The Director also said that he was a shy, friendly man, to whomst the world of art and design owe a great debt.
Photograph: L4red0 [CC BY-SA 4.0]