Saturday, January 24, 2009

Pago Pago vase (3087 vase) | Enzo Mari | Danese, Italy | 1969

Enzo Mari Pago PagoEnzo Mari
Danese, Italy, 1969

Pago Pago vase The Pago Pago vase.

For some reason, there seem to be three types of object I like above all others: vases, lamps, and clocks. For this entry, a vase. The Pago Pago vase by Enzo Mari captures both beauty and versatility. It has always reminded me of the tail fin and tail light of a car from the 1950s. It’s also nice that it is available in a wide variety of colors. Apparently, these colors were specifically chosen to match and enhance flowers that would be placed in the vase. Enzo Mari is another of my favorite designers so you will be seeing more of his objects on this blog. A brief excerpt of Mari’s biography from Hida is telling:

Enzo Mari was born in Novara, Italy in 1932. As a young man, Mari studied classics and literature at the Academia di Brera in Milan. Mari started working in the industrial field in the 1950s and opened a studio in Milan to continue his studies in the psychology of vision, systems of perception and design methodologies. At that time, he found himself forced to earn a living. Traveling via bike one day, because he could not afford a taxi, he delivered his metal “Putrella” material to the Italian manufacturing company, Danese. This initial meeting would be the beginning of a long-standing relationship between the manufacturer and Mari and from there they begin collaborating, eventually mass-manufacturing various products…Today 29 of Mari’s pieces are permanent fixture in MoMA’s collection.

Mari participated at the exhibition “Italy: the New Domestic Landscape” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He served as president of the Associazione per il Disegno Industriale (ADI) from 1976-1979. He has four times received the the “Compasso d'Oro” prize, in 1967 (independent design research), 1979 (Delfina chair for Driade), 1987 (Tonietta chair for Zanotta) and in 2001 (Legato Table for Driade).

By the way, here is a resource if you are interested in past winners of the Compasso d’Oro, a list of the winners and juries (with lots of pictures) to 1990.

I wish I had kept track of all the colors I’ve seen the original Pago Pago edition in. I am aware of: white, yellow, orange, green, and deep violet. Of course, if you know of more, tell me or send a pic! The vases can be quite expensive, with good condition items ranging from $150 to $250. Retromodern.com has an original edition yellow right now at $245 as well as a bunch of other items you should check out. The picture of that one is to the right. I’ve seen the orange one sell for $600 on eBay, the only one I’ve ever seen there. Pago Pago vase

Orange and yellow Pago Pago vasesImage source, Orange and Yellow Pago Pago

White Pago Pago vaseGreen Pago Pago vaseDeep violet Pago Pago vase

Image source   Image source

Pago Pago US Patent

The first page of the United States “Container” patent, number 3,729,114. The rest of the patent can be found here.

The Pago Pago is made of ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) and is 30 cm tall with walls of thickness 3.5 mm. The vase is really two in one. It can be oriented wide side down (the resulting opening is 9.5 cm diameter) or wide side up (19.7 cm across at its widest for an opening of 19.1 cm) as shown above in orange and yellow. The imprint on the Danese edition of the vase can be seen by looking into the wide portion down to the base. The imprint reads, curved along the base:


Pago Pago imprint The Danese imprint on the Pago Pago vase.

Alessi reissued the Pago Pago vase in 1997. These can be distinguished from the Danese edition by the Alessi imprint. Unfortunately, I don’t have one of the reissues, so I can’t show the stamp but I will update this post if I find one. I’ve seen the Alessi issue in white, yellow, green, and black, though it may have been available in other colors too. I’ll work on a complete list.

Alessi Pago Pago reissues Alessi reissues, image from eBay.

I am very interested in any information that can be contributed to this entry to further my knowledge of this piece. I would especially appreciate a photograph of the original box (Danese and Alessi) and information about original cost.

Selected Bibliography

Paolo Antonelli, Fulvio Ferrari, Claudia Neumann, Dictionnaire du Design Italie, 1999, p.47.

Philippe Decelle, Diane Hennebert, Pierre Loze, L'Utopie Du Tout Plastique 1960 - 1973, 1994, p.62.


Davis, L. (2008). Enzo Mari Bio-FV. Retrieved January 20, 2009, from Hida Sangyo Web site: http://www.em-hida.jp/en/pdf/Enzo%20Mari%20Bio-FV.pd

Rawsthorne, A. (2008, November 28). Enzo Mari: A rebel with an obsession for form and beauty. Retrieved January 22, 2009, from Mindfood Web site: http://www.mindfood.com/at-enzo-mari-designer-outspoken-form-beauty-career.seo

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