05 February 2019
Houses have eyes, noses and mouths. Some have windows and balconies and seem almost to be laughing. Others still have just a door and a few windows and look a bit sad. Some windows have cornices and decorations, which are the eyebrows. Then, on top, there is hair and hats. They are the roofs that protect the house from the sun and the rain. When houses have faces, it means they’re a bit like people.
Could you come up with a better way of explaining a house to a child? Probably not. Mario Bellini, the great eighty-three year old architect and designer is doing precisely this, putting himself in a child’s shoes again to explain furnishings and everyday objects to little ones. Il Design Spiegato ai Bambini (Design Explained to Children) is a short book, made up of easy words and wonderful illustrations by Erika Pittis, which teaches children to look at the world through creative eyes in order to understand design.
This approach will help them see sofas as great fabric dolls, clouds as objects that produce light rather than rain, and will encourage them to ask: “What’s it for? Why is it made like that?”
Bellini responds by explaining (not just to children) what a chair is, or a tap, why a table is so important, what one needs to think about when designing a new lamp. Because “Everyone likes the idea of designing the world, things. You only need to look around and the ideas are there, hanging, like me on a tree. You have to reach out, unhook them and pluck them.” This book is a journey into the world of the designer in order to understand the beauty and the essentiality of the things that furnish not just our homes but, also and especially, our lives.