FORM AND CONCEPT IN OUR CULTURAL CLIMATE: AN EVENING WITH ENZO MARI
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
One of most intellectually provocative designers of the 20th century, Enzo Mari, partnered with Luminaire to address the ways good design can change people's lives during a lecture presentation at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC).

By collaborating with Mari and the esteemed SAIC, Luminaire engaged modern and contemporary design in a larger cultural discourse. Design is produced within the context of social history and remains in constant dialogue with industry, cultural institutions and civic organizations. This event therefore provided an ideal platform to exchange ideas across varied disciplines.

As a writer, artist, professor, and a designer of products, furniture and puzzle games, Enzo Mari has often been considered too eccentric for commercial success. However, his work is greatly admired by the design community for its depth and complexity and for the wonderously conceptual undercurrents.

In 1971, Mari unveiled the Sof Sof chair for Driade in which a single removable cushion upholstered a simple welded rod frame. During the 1980s when Italian design was dominated by expressive colors and flamboyant forms, Mari remained committed to simple, rational designs such as the perfectly plain Tonietta cast aluminium framed chair for Zanotta.

Although it took a while for the community at large to acknowledge his important influence on modern and contemporary design, Luminaire supported his vision from the beginning. It was therefore a great joy to share his philosophy and his work with a larger audience at the SAIC as part of the Visiting Artists Program's Spring 2005 lecture series titled Thick Design.

Thick Design describes the work of artists and designers who explore the denseness of space, time, networks, text, and material in their projects, and Enzo Mari was hence a perfect choice for the program. Students and guests were moved by Mari's convictions, and were introduced to new ways of thinking about design and how it affects people's everyday lives.

Following the lecture, a reception, complete with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, was held at the Luminaire Chicago showroom. Mari shared personal stories with guests, creating an environment of friendly conversation, laughter, and intellectual discourse.