Cleto Munari Design Associates

... because life isn't always black and white ~

Tavolo da pranzo "Palafitte" di Cleto Munari
Edizione limitata di 99 pz - 2008

 Libreria double face "San Francisco" in legno laccato di Alessandro Mendini
Edizione limitata di 9 pz - 2008

Cleto Munari Design Associates, founded in 1972, has always had as its primary objective, the research of image, form and style through the study and avant-garde of design. The meeting of Cleto Munari with Carlo Scarpa ignited the search and experimentation in the field of the artisan handicraft using gold and silver, arriving at the creation, in 1978, of the well-known cutlery line.
By the end of the seventies an exclusive collection of silver pieces was created, designed by noted architects and designers and produced in limited numbers, today visible in art galleries and museums all over the world. Among these authors: Mario Bellini, Mario Botta , Michele De Lucchi, Ettore Sottsass, Carlo Scarpa, Vico Magistretti, Paolo Portoghesi , Angelo Mangiarotti, Roberto Sambonet, Marco Zanuso, Hans Hollein.
In 1980 the creation of a collection of jewelry in gold and precious stones began which was present for ten years in international museums and art galleries, giving life to a traveling show which concluded at the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome on the occasion of the first opening to the public of that exposition space.
In 1984, Cleto Munari Design Associates launched an innovative collection of watches designed by M. Graves, A. Isozaki, H. Hollein and E. Sottsass , today part of the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of New York.
In 1990, Alessandro Munari, engineer, but with a lifetime passion for design, inaugurated headquarters in the province of Padua for the production of objects in silver for daily use, distributed in Italy in over 400 jewelry and silver shops. This collection, constantly updated with novelty products, today is made up of a wide range of notable articles.
In 2002, keen interest in exploring new horizons in the design world moved Cleto Munari Design Associates to invest in a glasswork factory in Murano Venice, the beginning of an innovative experience in the area of glass-making. Once again international designers and artists were invited to improvise with this magical material.
In 2004, the creation of a unique collection of five fountain pens designed by A. Mendini, O. Tusquets, A. Siza, Toyo Ito e Cleto Munari , each one dedicated to five Nobel Prize winners in Literature, adding yet another dimension to the already varied world of the company. 
At the end of this 30-year road, Cleto Munari Design Associates has most recently concentrated in the creation of a furniture line presented in 2008, named the "Alessandro Mendini and Cleto Munari 2008 Collection".
The colourful varnished wood furniture, sculptures in silver and carpets in wool, already presented in numerous international exhibitions, are today in a show dedicated to the architect, Alessandro Mendini, at the Ara Pacis Museum in Rome.
Complementing this new project will be the Table-Sculpture Collection produced in a series of nine examples and designed by Cleto Munari, Mimmo Paladino, Sandro Chia, Mario Botta , Alessandro Mendini, Lawrence Ferlinghetti e Mark Strand. 
Among other future projects: the personal collection of Sandro Chia for the Biennale Exhibition in Venice 2009; a furniture line created in collaboration with such architects as Marcello Morandini e Giorgio Cattaneo.

When one speaks of Cleto Munari, what often comes to mind is the image of an aristocratic collector of beautiful things without the objective of affirming projects, trends, or ideologies, but simply for the pleasure of seeing them, or better yet, of seeing them be born.
Because Munari has, at the same time, the intuition and the ample eclectisism of the big collectors, but his “beautiful things” are not sought after in the shop windows or in some dusty warehouse but rather in the mind of his designer friends, explaining to them his ideas and intuitions and waiting patiently as they take form, first on drawing paper and then through a process similar to the distilling of liquor and consisting of comparing and correcting proto-types on the base of not only visual experience but tactile, weighty, and even acoustic in certain cases. Munari is therefore an "author" even if the author is missing a watch and, the manic cult of his own "personal style", is a "colloquial author" that utilizes the creativity of others without sacrificing his own, and reserves for himself, of the creation, two essential moments, even if normally rarely considered, the initial program and the self-critical journey that leads to the realization of the prototype.
The anomalous position of Munari, with respect to the alliance of producers of "Italian design", his indifference for the orthodox theory of design, and his passion for hand produced items, for the quality of the material and the perfection of its refinement measures, has allowed him however to develop an important cultural function, particularly in the last decade, for having both offered Carlo Scarpa the opportunity of a long and passionate search on the cutlery theme, in which the Venetian master gave the best of his taste to everyday luxury, as well as having given space to others who have explored the boundaries of orthodox modernism, and then decidedly distanced, hypothesizing a possible autonomous development for the “Italian Line”, released from the inhibitions of the operations of gute Form. Observed in its complex, like a system closed of experiences, bound by a thread that is both continuance and contradiction, the collection of objects produced by Cleto Munari has a “liberal” intonation and pushes towards the comparison of personality which in the newspaper columns and in the public debates contrasts with the theoretical subjects of the modernism and post modernism. A healthy confrontation because at the end of the game, in certain cases it shortens the distances and makes one see the dispute more clearly, and is more accessible to non-experts, if it is based on, even in architecture, finished and tangible works, instead of projects condemned to remain on paper or in words threatened by ambiguity and inter-exchange.
A Master therefore in the field of "doing" Munari style, with his comic smile, through the culture of architects and of designers, enriching them with rare occasions of testing end results, leaving behind himself small wonders which one day historians will study as precocious and significant symptoms of more vast phenomena which will also be part of , I hope, the future of our cities.
And the collectors, that are often ignored, historians in action, creators of fashion and custodians of quality, will find in the tilled and cultivated field of Munari the competence of those who know old and new secrets of the earth, abundant fruits to harvest and keep, overriding their choice and that already operated on, proposing additional details aside from those suggested, other consonances and contradictions, feeding a game which man has begun since the dawn of civilization and which consists of pleasure, reflected in the concreteness of an object, the difference of subjects, of the men who created, accomplishing that daily miracle which allows us to know ourselves again and again, the miracle of identity.
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