Alessandro Mendini – in praise of marble
The 46th edition of Marmomacc, the International Exhibition of Natural Stones, Design and Technologies, was presented in the prestigious setting of the Milan Triennial. The meeting was also the occasion for talking with famous architect Alessandro Mendini about design, architecture and the use of natural stone and marble. “I, despite never used having stone, must give praise here to marble,” Mendini began; “being a member of the jury for the ‘International Stone Architecture Award’ gave me the chance to see works in natural stone completed all over the world. There are many different ways of using this material, from the large and monumental building in Berlin to the tiny constructions by a group of Chinese architects in Tibet.” Mendini perceives the great tradition and great force that constructions in stone are able to communicate: “From Vitruvius to Palladio, through to the Neo-Classic and Art Deco, stone has always been a reassuring material, ensuring a sensation of stability in a world where things change with lightning speed.” The use of marble and natural stone over the centuries follows a central theme that Mendini identifies in Humanism. What does design mean today? What meaning can be given to the opportunities technology offers us? “I don’t believe in exasperated specialisation or hyper-technology,” Mendini summed up; “technology is important but it will not redeem the world: what is missing is the awareness of having a soul. ‘Humanist romanticism’ is absent far too often from design and architecture: the first tends towards objects lacking in all thought, while the second leans dangerously towards macro-speculation so that the architectural object often ends up resembling a bomb devastating the local area.” Exactly the contrary of the works presented at the “International Stone Architecture Award” that highlights buildings all over the world having special features focused on the appropriate and innovative uses of stone material in architecture.