Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Pago Pago vase, Enzo Mari, 1969

Just before Christmas 2020, MoDiP acquired a beautiful Pago Pago vase, designed by Enzo Mari in 1969 for Italian manufacturer, Danese Milano. Mari (b.1932 – d.2020) was a renowned design theorist who both practised and taught throughout an illustrious career that resulted in the creation of over 1500 objects.

Made of ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), the vase was designed with flexibility in mind, being reversible. A single bloom can de displayed in the narrow opening but turn the vase over to place a bouquet into the wider mouth. The double vase shares an interior wall to enable a two-part mould in manufacture, with a double bevel included within the design to conceal possible moulding shrinkages. 

Image ref: The double bevel
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Even evidence of the injection moulding process has been made into a feature – the gate/sprue mark has been positioned in the centre of the narrow end of the inner cone: Mari referred to this as a ‘slug’.

Image ref: The injection gate mark
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Essentially, the vase is made up of two truncated cones, one smaller one upturned within the other, with half of the outer side cut away and new supporting radial walls connecting both structures. The base has also been opened to enable access to the internal frustoconical body. Confused? The drawing in the patent (below) should help to make things clearer.

Image ref: The patented design
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Mari spent a significant amount of time researching different flower types and sizes in order to determine both the functional requirements of the vase as well as its colour, to show off the blooms to best effect (it was made available in white, yellow, orange, green and violet – MoDiP’s example). He aimed to create something that was versatile, to remove the need to purchase a variety of different shaped containers, but that was also elegant and affordable.

Alessi re-issued the Pago Pago in 1997, recognisable by the company imprint on the bottom.

Often described as one of his most notable works, the complex structure of the plastics vase aptly fulfils Mari’s philosophy of designing both aesthetically and functionally, whilst doing justice to the material. He sadly passed away in October 2020, aged 88, due to complications related to Covid-19. 

Katherine Pell
Collections Officer

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