Enzo Mari | Form Is Everything

Enzo Mari - Form Is Everything image

Enzo Mari is an Italian modernist artist and furniture designer who was born in 1932 in Novara, Italy.  Throughout his long career, he has made tremendous contributions to art and design as well as inspiring different design movements through practice, teaching and his numerous publications.

Early Life And Career Of Enzo Mari

Mari attended the Brera Academy in Milan (Accademia delle Belle Arti) in 1952-1956 where he studied contemporary art.  During his time at the academy, he was immersed in intensive activities doing individual and group exhibitions in contemporary art museums.

Enzo Mari - Form Is Everything image
16 Animali By Enzo Mari For Danese – 1957

Later in 1963, he assumed the position of coordinator for the ‘Nouve Tendenze’, an Italian art group and led it through the optical kinetic and program art exhibition for the ‘Biennale’ of Zagreb in 1965. In the same period he took part in the ‘Biennale’ of Venice and the ‘Triennale’ of Milan in various editions.

Design Career

In the late 60s, Mari started his design career through personal research, later collaborating with various graphic and editorial companies covering the industrial and commerce sector.

Modernist image
Modernist As A World View

He centered his work on experimentation with shapes for products and presented some of the most spectacular new shapes which even defied the conventional characteristics for mold-casting in the industrial process.

Exemplary Designs

In the early 70s, Mari designed some of his most famous creations – The Sof Sof chair and the “Box” chair during a time when he was also a professor at the Società Umanitaria, in Milan and closed the decade with the Defina chair for which he earned a Compasso d’Oro award  in 1979. Later in the 1980s, he made the Tonietta chair, a modernist piece of furniture that earned him another Compasso d’Oro award in 1987.


In 1974, Enzo Mari published the first edition of the ‘Autoprogettazione’, a ‘do-it-yourself’ furniture designs guide which marked a milestone in the history of contemporary design.

Enzo Mari - Form Is Everything image
Autoprogettazione By Enzo Mari – 1974

In his work, Mari suggested a democratic approach to design where he encouraged users and gave them the guidelines to create their own furniture when they need it. This is in sharp contrast to the formalism of that time and challenged the capitalist paradigm of mass production/consumption.

Recent Works

Of late Enzo Mari concerns himself with research and planning of urbanistic projects e.g.  “Piazza del Duomo in Milan and didactics in Italy and other foreign countries performed through conferences and lectures in universities.


  • http://www.danesemilano.com/designers/enzo-mari/
  • http://www.cucula.org/en/enzo-mari/
  • http://socks-studio.com/2016/04/18/critical-understanding-through-practice-autoprogettazione-by-enzo-mari-1974/
  • http://www.dezeen.com/2015/11/16/enzo-mari-autoprogettazione-furniture-reproduction-berlin-refugee-organisation-cucula-humanitarian-design/

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