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.
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.
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.
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