DESIGN TRENDS - RADICAL DESIGN<p>by Cristina Morozzi</p>


by Cristina Morozzi

Radical Design

In Spring 2020, the Museum of Fine Arts of Houston held one of the most exhaustive expositions of Italian radical design. The show included a rich catalogue of the greatest exponents of the movement like Dennis Friedman whose collection was in part exposed. 


The term radical design was coined by Germano Celant, a famous art critic and creator of the Italian poor art movement. Its first official debut was in 1972 during the "Italian New domestic landscape" exhibition at the Moma in New York, curated by Emilio Ambasz. Alessandro Mendini (general director of Casabella, Domus and Modo) was the most influential representative of the movement and contributed to its circulation.


In his book "An exaggerate generation" (Baldini&Castoldi, Milan, 2014), the brilliant theorist and member of Archizoom Andrea Branzi, writes about the random birth of the movement. Indeed, he tells about the Superarchitecture exhibition held in Pistoia in 1966 at Jolly Due ( a fisherman's warehouse). In this exhibition, Paolo Deganello's (for  Archizoom) and Adolfo Natalini's ( exponent of  Superstudio) manifesto stated:  "Superarchitecture is the architecture of super-consumption, of the superinduction to super-consumption, of supermarkets, of superman, of the super fuel".  The "Superarchitecture" mentioned in the manifesto had a spark effect and combusted the arid field of design.


In Turin, in 1965, the avant garde movement of architecture was funded by the architects, poets and designers by Franco Audrito, Roberta Garasci, Renzo Bertone, Paolo Morelli and  Paolo Rondelli. Studio 65 played a fundamental role in the Italian radical movement thanks to projects by the Torinese company Gufram. Among these projects, the most iconic is the Bocca (Mouth) sofa designed in 1970 for a Milanese fitness centre. Its original name was Marilyn as it was dedicated to the famous actress. Studio 65 is still internationally operating and is the home of outstanding architecture and design projects. Thus, in 2017, Maria Cristina Didero, author of “Super Design” (The Monacelli Press) curated an exhibition in New York in the honour of the Studio. With its sensual shape the Bocca sofa, still in production, expresses the radicals' obsession for signage design, capable of introducing pop art into discipline.

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