Mario Bellini

ITALY (1935)

Mario Bellini is an architect, industrial designer, teacher, spokesman, curator and editor. He has played each of these roles with the same commitment to promoting design as his predecessors, Marco Zanuso and Vico Magistretti. He became one of the leading exponents of Italian design in the 1970s.

Bellini studied architecture at the Politecnico di Milano and shortly thereafter ascended to the position of design director at La Rinascente, an influential chain of Italian department stores. In 1963, he founded an architectural office with Marco Romano and ten years later, established Studio Bellini in Milan. From 1963–1991, he was the chief design consultant for Olivetti.

His designs for Olivetti include the Divisumma calculator, an appealingly rounded machine made of brightly colored plastic and covered with a thin rubber membrane. He also designed the Praxis typewriter for Olivetti. Less overtly radical than his contemporaries, Bellini is nonetheless respected for his highly original forms, wide-ranging design ideas and technical sophistication. His furniture design is stylistically eclectic but characterized by voluptuous organic forms, an inventive use of luxurious materials and a high level of finish.

In 1972 Bellini won international attention when he presented a mobile micro-living environment entitled Kar-a-Sutra at the “New Domestic Landscape” exhibition held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. A literate as well as imaginative designer, Bellini acted as editor of Domus magazine from 1986 to 1991, and he is a member of the Scientific Council for the Milan Triennale. He has also held the position of professor of design at the Istituto Superiore del Disegno Industriale, Venice and professor of industrial design at the Domus Academy, Milan. Bellini has acted as designer and consultant for Cassina, Vitra, B&B Italia, Flos, Artemide and Renault. He has received numerous design accolades, including a remarkable eight Compasso d'Oro Awards.

Artist photo from 1000 Chairs courtesy of Taschen.

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