For kids and parents

Woodyzoody, a collection of small, wooden animals by 13 designers, offers a starting point for an interesting conversation with Enzo Mari, inventor in 1973 of a set of 16 animals and another of 16 fish: from toys for children to being a parent today.

Woody Zoody
At home on the sofa, 84 year old Enzo Mari stirs his coffee. With a cigar in his hand he looks, first from a distance, then close up, at the prototypes of some wooden animals that he hasn't seen before. He scrutinises them, touches them, checks out the material and structure.
Woody Zoody
The chosen woods for the collection come from different parts of the world: from Europe to Oceania through North and South America; every animal is associated with the wood of his native continent, so that the eye, the touch and the sense of smell perceive different suggestions and feelings
He is perplexed, always critical. The Woodyzoody collection, as this small range of wooden animals by 13 designers is called, has in fact got nothing to do with him. It is however impossible, unthinkable, to not ask for his opinion. Not just because Mari is an undisputed master of Italian design but also because in 1957, he was the first to make a crate of animals in exquisite wood: the unforgettable – for their perfect shape and the way they fitted together – sets of 16 animals and 16 fish, designed and produced by Danese. After a few minutes of silent observation, he finally delivers his judgement. Incontestable, definitive and incredibly true.
Woody Zoody
Opinions and ideas have been shared to give birth to a first collection of animals: the chick, the platypus, the chicken, the hippopotamus, the sperm whale, the beaver, the toucan, the woodpecker, the fox, the octopus, the ray and the ostrich
“These are not really objects for children. They are objects designed to stimulate the dreams of the parents,” he comments, lighting his cigar. “They are made, in reality, for parents who dream about still being children,” he continues with the calmness of his age. “It’s a bit like those elderly women dressed in clothes that look like armour and use creams to hide their wrinkles. Deep down they know they are old and that their breasts droop down towards their knees. Despite remembering this though, they want to live at all costs. Because the memory is the most beautiful moment of life, it is in that moment that they liberate their childhood”.
Woody Zoody
Woodyzoody was born from an idea of Giulio Iacchetti (on the left in the photo) and it presents itself as a wood animal publisher; it is the result of the challenge that 12 designers have decided to pick participating to this coral project.

Francesca Esposito: What about your collection of animals designed for Danese almost sixty years ago, was that a children’s toy?

Enzo Mari: When I created the 16 animals and 16 fish I was still young, I was about twenty-five. I made them at a time when I found myself, due in part to my inexperience and ignorance, the father of two children. The animals were a toy for the children, it started with a sketch in wood made by hand for my children. I should still have somewhere the elephant that was on show in my studio.

The design was initially produced by Bruno Danese in 1957 then given over to Alessi with the idea of making a collection in plastic then in the end, after Carlotta De Bevilacqua took over the brand, it continued to be produced by Danese.

Woody Zoody
Some of the chosen woods for the collection

Francesca Esposito: What gave you the idea for this design?

Enzo Mari: Mine was just the idea of a child, maybe quite a big child. As I described in 25 ways to drive a nail, I had the idea of making a puzzle with 16 animals, all different and immediately recognisable – elephant, hippopotamus, snake, bear, giraffe, rhinoceros. It was a long and complicated project conceived to be based on a single piece of wood, from which you could separate the animals and have fun arranging them in unexpected ways, transforming them into characters in a play directed by the child. Today though, the child is seen as a projection of the adult’s idea of play, who has ambiguous recollections that are in almost 100% of cases, wrong.

Woody Zoody
The Woodyzoody animals have been created following a personal and aesthetic research by each designer and they all have one common element: every piece is turned and then worked/perfected by the numerical control machine

Francesca Esposito: Signor Mari, you then stopped designing for children and decided to produce objects that could educate adults, and consequently also parents. How is being a mother or a father different today?

Enzo Mari: I realise that it is very difficult to be a parent today because the outside world is incredible. As something of an optimist, I would advise not conditioning children with rules, not teaching them anything because a child's intelligence is a great deal more superior to that of an adult. I’ve said it many times, the Nobel prize should be awarded to a two-year old. Now, to tell the truth, I am horrified by the world I see from the window and on the television. The world today for me does not correspond to my experience of seventy years. You’re young but remember that eighty comes quickly. The future cannot be written, we don’t know anything about the future.

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Designer : Federico Angi, Giorgio Biscaro, Francesco Faccin, Odo Fioravanti, Giulio Iacchetti, Elia Mangia, Giacomo Moor, Lanzavecchia&Wai, Lorenz+Kaz, Lorenzo Palmeri, Matteo Ragni, Paolo Ulian
Founder and curator : Roberta Brambilla
Co-founder : Aurelie Callegari

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