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Mario Bellini is an Italian architect and designer internationally renowned. He graduated from the Milan Polytechnic – Faculty of Architecture in 1959 and began working as an architect himself in the early 1960s. He is the winner among others of 8 Golden Compass Award (Compasso d’Oro is the italian name for this award) and prestigious architecture awards including the Medaglia d’Oro conferred on him by the President of the Italian Republic. Between other awards, 25 of Mario Bellini’s works are in the permanent design collection of the New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), which dedicated to him a personal retrospective in 1987. Like many other Italian architects, his activities range from architecture and urban planning to product and furniture design, making him a reference for “Best architect in Milan”!
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BIOGRAPHY: THE MAN BEHIND THE MYTH
He has designed countless art, design and architecture exhibitions over the years, both in Italy and abroad…plenty of reasons to be known as one of the best architects of Italy. The last one is the first ever Giotto exhibition (September 2015, Palazzo Reale, Milan).
Since the 1980’s, dedicating himself almost entirely to architecture, the manifold buildings he has designed include the Portello Trade Fair district in Milan, the Villa Erba Exhibition and Convention Centre in Cernobbio (Como), the Tokyo Design Center in Japan, the Natuzzi America Headquarters in the United States, the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, the Deutsche Bank Headquarters in Frankfurt, the City History Museum of Bologna, the Department of Islamic Art at the Louvre in Paris, and the new Milan Convention Center, the largest in Europe.
BACKGROUND & REALIZATIONS: BEST PROJECTS
Two residential Buildings in the Brera District, Milan, Italy (1993)
Concorso Orto Botanico Padova, Padova, Italy (2005)
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THE MOST ICONIC PROJECTS
Hotel Garage Traversi
To restructure the Ex Garage Traversi, changing its function to give it a new life, means to resume the fundamental ties of a pieces of the urban and social history of the city of Milan neglected for far too long.
The project intends to: interprets the main features of modernity that characterize the artifact (facades and open plan) to harmonize them with the new functional and distribution requirements. Retrieve the main facade of the former garage like a Mask, a solid urban theater wing to preserve the identity of the street’s curtain of via Bagutta.
Raise a few feet behind the mask, the new Face of the multi-functional complex, a green facade that breathes and which is permeable to the visitors’ gaze. Then put in mutual communication (direct and visual) the City and the multipurpose complex, through the large horizontal eyes of the mask and the transparency of the new ‘green Face’ which communicates with the similar elements that surround it in the public space in front.
The space that is going to be defined between the historic facades, freed from the slabs that no longer respond to the new functional requirements, and the new green facade that wraps the commercial floors, is a dramatic space able to surprise and put in dialectical tension the existing and the new intervention, without any of the parties losing consistency in their mutual comparison.
National Gallery of Victoria International
The Gallery was enlarged and completely redesigned, leaving the external architecture untouched. This enormous task began in 1996 after an invitation-only international competition, which was won by Mario Bellini in association with Metier 3. Bellini’s submission competed against those by some of the best architects in the world, including Arata Isozaki, D.C.M.- Gae Aulenti, and Pei Cobb Freed.
“After seven long years of studies, discussions and work,” says Mario Bellini, “the winning idea was that of returning this great monument to the citizens of Melbourne absolutely intact in its role as urban symbol, yet, simultaneously, radically rethought and transformed in its role as a museum.
From the entrance, the reception area, the breadth of facilities available, the circulation, the sequence of exhibition themes, the reinvention and doubling of the space and on to the evocative three central courtyards, the overall atmosphere, the signposting, materials, colours, lighting, exquisite exhibition cases … there is little to recall the original municipal institution and everything will speak a new language which takes into account the increasingly sophisticated needs and sensibilities of today’s museum and gallery visitors.”
The project involves 30 exhibition rooms devoted to the permanent collection displaying international works ranging from Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Asian to contemporary art, It includes a comprehensive collection of decorative arts, as well as a significant collection of works on paper. Three large spaces are devoted to the display of temporary exhibitions. The new development incorporates a new foyer and large orientation space, halls for performances and conferences capable of holding 500 people, café for 250 visitors, a spacious shop, education facilities and collection study areas. This revitalized institution has been designed and built to cater to many thousands of visitors a year.
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT MARIO BELLINI
Mario Bellini is recognized internationally for projects such as: the expansion of the Milan Trade Fair; the new Cultural Centre for the City of Turin; the Villa Erba Exhibition and Congress Centre in Cernobbio on Lake Como; the Tokyo Design Centre in Japan; the Natuzzi Headquarters in the U.S.; as well as the design of many memorable exhibitions including The Renaissance from Brunelleschi to Michelangelo: The Representation of Architecture for Palazzo Grassi in Venice and The Triumphs of the Baroque at the Stupinigi Hunting Lodge, inTurin. Mario Bellini was editor of Domus magazine (1985-1991) – a world architecture magazine reference- and he gives talks from all over the world. Below you can see one of Mario Bellini’s best architecture projects, Sheikh Zayed National Museum!
ALL CREATORS TOGETHER
The Italian interior designer Mario Bellini will tour multiple U.S. cities to speak about his longstanding relationship with Cassina and the international projects which have made him one of the most influential architects of our time. Bellini continues his partnership with Cassina this year with the iconic Cab collection which had its debut at the Saloné del Mobile in Milan in April 2015 and will serve as the focal point of the U.S. tour this June.
One of Bellini’s most recognizable pieces, and a Cassina best-seller with over 500,000 pieces produced to date, is the Cabchair designed in 1977. The Cab is conceived as an extension of the human body and through this harmonious relationship the chair is – according to Bellini – one of the pieces of furniture most deeply rooted in our collective memory.
INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES BY MARIO BELLINI
” A design career is a process of learning better and better what you know instinctively”
“I designed a bench in a few moments. But, of course, it took me 25 years to do it”
“Tell me what chair you’ve designed and i’ll tell you what sort of architect you’re”
TALENT IS A HERITAGE
Born in Milan in 1935, Bellini graduated in architecture from the Milan Polytechnic in 1959. After working as design director of La Rinascente, he was hired in 1963 by Olivetti to re-design its office machines. Olivetti helped him satisfy what he has called his “insatiable curiosity,” by allowing him free rein and excitement of working with engineers, modelers, and painters. He could explore industrial production in terms of his grounding in classical architecture. Architectural logic was expressed in an organic form language.
Bellini was a key figure in the revitalization of Italian design. Always looking for simple elegant solutions, he designed such pieces as the Amanta chair, a fiberglass frame supporting a foam cushion (C & B, 1966), the famous Cab chair with its removable leather covering (Cassina, 1976), and office chairs for Vitra. Bellini’s designs were also produced by Fiat, Renault, Pirelli, Brionvega, Yamaha, and Artemide.
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