The sixteen animals that piece together Danese Milano’s “16 animali” puzzle are a “crazy idea” by designer Enzo Mari, who one day, in the late 1950s, had a dream in which an elephant, a rhinoceros, an hippopotamus, a snake, a giraffe, a bear, and quite a few more species formed a streamlined children’s toy with endless possibilities.
The puzzle is still considered one of the best ever examples of design for children. Perhaps the childlike, nonconformist approach of the Piedmontese designer, born in 1932, was his secret: he once said, “When I make an object and people say, ‘Wow, very well done!’, I start to wonder where I went wrong”.
Mari couldn’t stand the idea of “giving a confirmation of reality” with his work.
And indeed, his incredibly popular wooden animals are still stunning in their simple beautiful, even decades after his dream.