The Covid 19 pandemic has wreaked havoc across for the past few months. Some of the worst-hit countries are the United States, India, Brazil, Italy, Iran, and so on. With its high infectivity, this virus has infected around 46 million people and has led to the death of 1.19 million people worldwide. But even under such adverse conditions, the demise of legendary Italian designer Enzo Mari and his wife Lea Vergine came as a shock for the creative world. The two were admitted to San Raffaele hospital in Milan after getting infected by this virus. However, due to the complications, the two died hours apart; Enzo Mari, passing away aged 88 on 19th October, and Lea Vergine, passing away on 20th October at the age of 82. The two were big names in their respective creative fields and joined the increasing list of iconic figures (in the field of architecture and design) who lost their lives to the coronavirus. The newspapers and magazines paid homage to these towering figures alongside their colleagues and accomplices. Their thoughts and life’s works were highlighted and remembered to understand their thinking and learn from them.
The human realm is littered with a million thoughts that up the reality we know to be true. But what happens to these thoughts when life seeps out of the mind from which it originates. It is a common thought that goes through the minds of many. Man has pondered about the world after death, and many communities across the globe have various interpretations of the afterlife. But none of us know for sure what happens once we die. Our reality is limited to the life we live and the thoughts we develop during that time. And the most we think about life is when we have a certain level of peace in life. Man has pondered to find this peace in a variety of ways but has overlooked the thing that is closest to us; nature and simplicity.
These subtle truths of life are what the famous Italian industrial designer, Enzo Mari strived for throughout the span of his life. The design realm has seen a large contribution to his life’s work and led to many new ideas. His work was governed by the phenomenology of the creation process of all forms—natural or artificial. His major break came in the year 1957 when he collaborated with ‘Danese’ (an Italian design brand), which led to the creation of his iconic works like ‘16 animali’ and ‘Delfina chair.’ The ‘16 animali’ was a children’s puzzle designed intricately to fit in a particular spot, quite similar to the laser cut structures, way before its time. It intended to generate curiosity among children and teach them about the perfectness of nature. However, his most iconic work was ‘Autoprogettazione’ (released in 1974), a guidebook with instructions for designing a range of home furniture using wooden boards and nails and some simple tools. The book’s title translates to ‘self-design’ and consists of different exercises that can be carried out by the reader to understand the meaning of good design and its working. Apart from this he was a vocal communist and worked towards the betterment of the people. As a Utopian idealist, he focused on community development and helped instigate a will to learn different skills and respect their surroundings at the same time. He emphasized how any form developed naturally was perfect using various examples from nature (like the hand or a leaf). He made use of minimal forms and consistent use of materials which can be considered unique to Italian design and at a broader level, this helped establish its importance at a world stage.
Lea Vergine on the other hand dedicated her to highlighting women artists so that they could present their work in their own words. She collaborated with several Italian journals promoting performance art and women history. She worked as an art critic and art historian, with a special focus on body art. Her most famous work was the book called “Body Art and Performance: The Body as Language,” which gave insight on the peak time in the field of Body Art movement and writings by many featured artists. It makes use of the body as a medium of expression due to its perfect form. This theory is similar to Mari’s theory of form. They focused on how the form matches the meaning of the object and at the same time conveys some type of knowledge. Both their theories rattled the rigid societies of their time and became legendary icons in their time and for the future generation, and inspired people into this field.
People may be mortal, but ideas are immortal and live on forever in books, movies and passed on from generation to generation. These ideas are like saplings in a forest that grow up and branch out into a million new ideas. Hence, it’s ideal to pay heed to such ideas and help people grow closer to the truth of life. This is the only thing we people can nurture in our lifetime because, in the end, all that remains of us are our ideas.