The nonconformist functionality of Mario Bellini’s “Kar-a-sutra”

In 1972, Milanese architect and designer Mario Bellini (1935) presented the outlandish concept car “Kar-a-sutra”, created in collaboration with Pirelli and Citroën, at New York’s MoMA (where about twenty of his works have been included in the permanent collection).

The model predated modern MPVs like the Renault Espace, pairing functionality – with great attention for comfort and ways for people to communicate – with imagination, eccentricity, and nonconformist solutions.

As Claudia Neumann has said, “Bellini rejected overly functionalist doctrines in designing both cars and furniture: ‘Every project has the opportunity for other projects in it’. That is why his designs always have an emotional side as well as a use that is clearly tied to their function. Bellini always has the cultural dimension of design and architecture clear, and sees himself as a designer interested in the new organization of the world as a whole, someone who – in his own words – designs “like an architect”, whether he is working on office interiors, cars, lamps, fountain pens, or coffee makers” (C. Neumann, “Design Italia”, Rizzoli, Milan 1999).

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