15 Minutes With…Mario Bellini


It’s not often that one gets the opportunity to speak with a master, specifically a brilliant architect whose philosophies have revolutionized industrial design, architecture and, well, history. On a recent visit to speak at ARKITEKTURA in San Francisco, Italian architect and winner of multiple Golden Compass awards, Mario Bellini shared insights on his approach.

The Cab Chair designed for Cassina

Does your design approach differ between architecture and industrial design?

My strong belief is that design methodologies don’t exist. They are for education. For me, it’s understanding the pure truth. Architecture is always consis- tent while products are more fluid and evolutionary. With product design there is more freedom. You can set up a scale then let the piece evolve.

You have worked for many nota- ble companies; do you ever design with their business in mind?

Design should be totally free.  It is my pleasure to think about the process and look for the final result. I push until I am satisfied with the result and often listen to production but do not allow it to shape my process. I don’t believe that form follows function. Form should inspire and stimulate the desire to have and to live with the piece, and then we alter our function to that piece.

What do you consider the big- gest accomplishments of your career?

In terms of architec- ture, I would say the Islamic Art Galleries at the Musée du Louvre in Paris, the Lake Como Convention Centre and the Tokoyo Design Center, which is now considered a national landmark. For furniture, the Cab Chair for Cassina.

The Department of Islamic Art at the Louvre

What are you currently working on?

Currently I am designing a museum at the Temple de Roma, essentially covering it, which will showcase the ancient temple. I am still working on a piece once a year for Kartel and designing a few furniture pieces for Cassina. I want to go on designing with leather and steel frames. It’s a new language invented where leather is the focus and the steel is the structure.


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