here are clouds that light up and dolls that transform into sofas. How do you explain design to a child? An eight-time winner of the ADI Compasso d’Oro award, the Italian architect and designer Mario Bellini answers the question with his new book Il design spiegato ai bambini (Bompiani) (lit. design explained to children).
Design "is the design of all the things that surround us in our drawers, our wardrobes, our rooms, our homes and in our cities," Mario Bellini explains. In fact, he has chosen everyday objects and furniture to explain design to children, the type of objects that you take for granted and don’t linger on.
So, green light to drawings, photographs and illustrations (by Erika Pittis) that, in a journey through the world of beauty, illustrate the architect’s work for the top Italian brands, from lamps to beds, from taps to chairs.
"The idea that something called design was born in the 1940s and 1950s is amusing, but it doesn't bewitch me," Mario Bellini explains. "Furniture, forks, chairs and houses have been made since the dawn of mankind. But nowadays the term “design” is overused. This is a designer fork, this is a designer glass. I let people say it, then I ask them: Tell me how do you differentiate a designer coffee maker from a normal one. People loose themselves in a bundle of contradictions that are increasingly more convoluted, until they cut you off saying well you understand, don’t you? I’m this way with customer service too, I always ask them why is this a designer pepper grinder and I enjoy myself immensely!”
In his illustrated book, Mario Bellini explains this concept in simple terms by remembering when as an eight-year-old boy he built his first model toy house in bricks. As you leaf through the pages of this book, you are instantly immersed in the architect’s world and grasp the hidden aspects of his work: you understand what inspires him, you are bewitched by everyday life similarly to him and see everything under a new light.
Because "everybody enjoys the idea of being able to draw the world. Just take a look around you and the ideas are there, hanging, similarly to me on a tree. You have to stretch, pull them off and take them". And who’s better than a child at being naturally bewitched and amazed? So, let's "train" with the little ones: you will finally grasp the true meaning of design.