Roberto Menghi

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The history of Italian design is that of the best creative and cultural energies of our Country. Its protagonists are often more known by fans and trade professionals rather than by a wide audience and some of them are even unknown or forgotten. And yet the quality, the elegance and functionality of pieces designed by these genial and original Masters "fallen into oblivion" are often the distinctive features of best design. 

The case of Roberto Menghi (Milan 1920-2006) is emblematic. After taking his degree at the Polytechnic he specialized in architecture and in interior and industrial design. Awarded with two Grand Prizes at Triennale for the sections "glass" and "design" and with two Compasso d'Oro (one for the Guscio by Zanotta, designed in 1967), Menghi dedicated with passion to the restoration of buildings with special artistic interest, like Palazzo dei Giureconsulti in Milan. He taught Architecture at Venice and Milan universities and Design at the "New Academy" in Milan and Bath Academy. "The official history may sometimes leaves someone in obscurity, that's Roberto Menghi's case. Architect and designer of great quality, a master in mixing contemporaneity and primitivism as if they were two roots getting together at one result. Like for the homes he designed in Sardinia and Elba island and the design of the Guscio hut by Zanotta and the glasses for Bormioli. Both simple and extraordinary" Marco Romanelli architect and design critic, explains. "Two different souls converge on the project of Guscio, for example. Two souls that, without traumas, draw near and join in the Menghi's personality. The sea, the sailing, the holiday, the adventure and sporty life on one side. On the other side the accuracy, the technological research, the theory of a project for everybody". Romanelli adds "the Guscio is a hybrid typology between design and architecture, practiced only a little in the story of Italian design. In the "impossible space" of this hut, Menghi trickles down his architectural knowledge and his skills in composing. It is no coincidence that the shape of it, although intended for "campsite", shows a sign of sacredness that we may retrace later in the villa at Capo Ceraso (1969-70). The Guscio, even if made of glass fiber and polyurethane, is linked conceptually with the frame of a primitive hut: the future speaks with the archetype. And Menghi as usual stands there: a place between past and future that, later in time, we can define as refined classic spirit".

To celebrate Roberto Menghi and give him the deserved emphasis, his daughter Veronica has organized a night-event at the Ordine degli Architetti in Milan, "Roberto Menghi: the fine red thread of memory" with the video-display and an intense debate that highlighted episodes, architectures, objects that belong to the unrepeatable period of post-war culture. Due to history recurrences they had been set apart without reasons, nearly bringing to the extreme consequences that understatement line that pervaded the Milanese experience at that time, from architecture to design. A great lesson for the young generations and an extraordinary heritage for the design world.

(note: the product Guscio mentioned in this article has been discontinued)