An extract from an article by Denna Jones in COVER 43, on four rugs designed by Alessandro Mendini displayed at The Fragile Gallery in Milan during Salone del Mobile. Buy the issue or subscribe here.
‘Now in his eighties, Mendini is enjoying a renaissance of popularity fuelled in part by renewed interest in Alchimia, Memphis and postmodern design. Famously productive and prolific, one of Mendini’s recent projects is his limited edition Earthquake Collection of rugs produced in collaboration with Joseph Carini.
Mendini’s rug collection with Joseph Carini Carpets in Manhattan is a direct collaboration between the two men. Introduced by their mutual friend Michela Bondardo, the collaboration kicked off digitally. ‘We began emailing each other,’ confirms Carini. Mendini’s candid assessment of the collaboration is recalled by Carini. ‘Listen Joe, I’ll do a rug if I can authentically come up with a carpet collection in the next thirty days. If I can’t, we’ll just be friends.’ Two weeks later four designs arrived in New York. Mendini’s decision to collaborate with Carini was piqued by his long-standing desire to design ‘enlarged playing cards’, a trope perfectly suited to rugs. Carini describes the bold outcome as ‘childlike and playful’, an assessment that reflects Mendini’s youthful aspiration to be a cartoonist in the mould of Walt Disney.
Mendini credits Carini with the ultimate colour palette for the collection’s four rugs (Toto, Rasuwa, Dhading, Gorkha), but the designs are evolutions of familiar Mendini motifs and inspirations.
Despite the apparent transparency of meaning behind Mendini’s ‘simple’ designs, nothing is exactly as it appears. The large circle ears on Toto resemble Boa masks from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. ‘I’ve always been interested in African, Japanese and Indonesian masks,’ confirms Mendini, ‘and I’ve often worked on these references.’