Supreme has a well-documented history of enlisting collaborators that are often little known within the streetwear and skateboarding communities. Peter Saville’s floral album art for Joy Division, Roy Lichtenstein’s pop art comics, and Damien Hirst’s signature dotilism are only three cases that Supreme has worked into its seasonal collections.
Supreme’s tendency for partnering with some of the most celebrated contemporary artists continued in SS16, as the iconic New York skate brand tapped Italian architect and designer Alessandro Mendini. Mendini is widely viewed as a proponent for radicalizing Italian furniture design, while the Milanese artist also left an impact on the publishing world through an emphasis on marrying architecture with design.
Disrupting Italian Art
Born in 1931, Alessandro graduated from the Milan Polytechnic school in 1959, before playing an integral role with design publications including Casabella (1970-76), Modo (1977-81) and Domus (1979-85). Many awards, lofty appointments and decorations later, today Mendini operates a firm aptly named Atelier Mendini alongside his brother Francesco.
Alessandro Mendini’s work is categorically contemporary, characterized by bright colors and non-traditional shapes as an exploration of how one discipline can be affected by another. Much of Mendini’s artistic approach attempts to inject new meaning or new perspective into everyday objects such as furniture or homewares, a method that the Italian artist refers to as “re-design”, which was a notable departure from classic Italian styles at the time. Mendini is often attributed with helping reform the Italian art, design and architecture movements in the 1980s.
Key Works: Products
Quite a large part of Mendini’s work is comprised by furniture design. His distinctive, Italian-made armchairs perhaps best exemplify his approach to design, taking an existing product and recontextualizing it into something poignantly modern.
Mendini’s catalog also includes a broad range of products and collaborations with the likes of Cartier, Hermès, Swatch and many others. A well-received range of kitchen products for Alessi – including corkscrews, trays, nutcrackers and more – is also a standout chapter in his career.
Key Works: Architecture
Other notable works extend into urban planning and large-scale architectural projects, not limited to an aquatic sports centre with an Olympic pool in Trieste; the restoration of City Hall and construction of three metro stations in Naples; Byblos Art Hotel-Villa Amistà in Verona; the Paradise Tower in Hiroshima, Japan; Groningen Museum in the Netherlands; the Madsack office building in Hannover and a commercial building in Lörrach, Germany, and numerous other buildings in Europe, the USA and Asia.
Work with Supreme
Mendini worked with Supreme on the brand’s SS16 offerings to create a selection of three ceramic trays, while the Italian artist also provided original graphics to the New York skate label for skate decks and apparel. A stylized gun graphic features on a ceramic tray, a work jacket and a pullover hoodie.
Also, don’t miss our investigation into another Supreme collaborator, Toshio Maeda.