Q&A

Interview: Mario Bellini, heavy-weight Italian designer

20 Jun 2014  •  7 min read

Mario Bellini is one of Italy’s heavy-weight, internationally-renowned designers. His impressive repertoire – spanning architecture, urban design, industrial design and furniture – is built from the early-60s. He received eight Compasso d’Oro industrial design awards, the Medaglia d’Oro architecture award, and the Ambrogino d’Oro conferred on the most prestigious citizens of the municipality of Milan.

Mr Bellini was editor of the authoritative design magazine Domus (1985 to 1991); and has 25 works in the permanent collection of the New York Museum of Modern Art, also the venue of his 1987 retrospective exhibition.

Mr Bellini will be in Singapore as part of an Asian tour in July. He will present, at a private seminar, his long-standing collaboration with the Italian furniture manufacturer Cassina; as well as his international architecture projects. In advance of his visit, the DesignSingapore Council asks Mr Bellini 15 questions via e-mail. Here, revealing a man with interests far beyond his professional practice, are his responses:

My personal style signifiers are invisible.

The places to see and experience world-class contemporary design in Milan are the Triennale Design Museum; the product design department of the store La Rinascente; the exclusive showroom Spazio Rossana Orlandi; and my house, open only to friends.

The important emerging young talents are Canadian-Polish pianist Jan Lisiecki, Uruguayan chef Matias Perdomo, Italian economist Alberto Mingardi and Chinese architect Wang Shu.

An aspect of my profession that people do not know is that many different disciplines and talents are involved and needed to design, build and produce the work we do.

An artistic pursuit I have not tried but would be keen to do is to write poetry.

Objects I would never part with: soft pencil and white paper.

A phrase I use frequently: “Why not?”

A recent epiphany: The growing importance of my remaining time.

A personal indulgence: To be more and more unpredictable.

My current obsession: To sit at my piano and play like the young Ivo Pogorelich and the old Alfred Brendel.

My sanctuary of peace and quiet is my private garden in the centre of Milan – surrounded by the Brera art gallery district, La Scala theatre and via Montenapoleone fashion district.

A recent gift I purchased for my wife Elena was the complete edition of the recently-published Mozart letters.

When I last looked into the mirror, I thought: “I could look worse.”

As host to a perfect dinner, my imaginary guests for the table of six are: Johann Sebastian Bach, Francis Bacon, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, William Shakespeare and my young journalist wife to conduct the most adventurous conversation/interview. In case of a cancellation, why not Usain Bolt or Ray Kurzweil?

An advice from my father: “When you have to do something, do it in your best possible way.”

An interior featuring the La Basilica table and Break chairs by Mario Bellini for Cassina. 

Mario Bellini exhibition, 1–31 July, Dream Flagship Store, 456 River Valley Road. www.dream.com.sg

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