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Ettore Sottsass

Ettore Sottsass

Ettore Sottsass, (1917-2008) designer and ardent design philosopher, worked throughout his career to shake the static ways in which people thought about design and to try to create a body of work outside of what he thought were “hierarchic bureaucratic structures of industry.” Although Sottsass was born in Austria, he studied at the Turin Polytechnic and is identified as one of the major forces behind the immense wave of design that began flowing out of Italy after the war. His main interest was in creating objects that challenged the icons of Italian design that he felt functioned in terms of status and money.
He started out working as a designer and consultant for the company Poltronova before starting his own office in 1945. The position that first made his name known internationally was that of design consultant for Olivetti’s electronics department, starting in 1958. Some of the work coming out of his own office during this period was a 1958 hanging light for Arredoluce, several ceramics series like his 1963 “Ceramics of Darkness” which mirrored and articulated events in his own life, and a set of furniture for Poltronova. These were made of everyday objects like traffic lights and heavily inspired by the exposure to Pop Art sensibilities that he had gotten on a trip to the United States. He also designed a bedroom for the 1965 “La Casa Abitata” exhibition that was influenced by Japanese aesthetics and eastern philosophy.
For the 1972 “New Domestic Landscape” exhibition at the MoMA in New York, Sottsass proposed a group of plastic containers on castors that could be moved and rearranged to create different living areas within a house. Sottsass’ theory was that they were “formally exonerated from the ethnic state of ownership.” He went on to explain that he was “not the least bit interested in making elegant or graceful objects, and even less so in designing silent things that leave the viewer secure in his psychic or cultural status quo.”
Sottsass formed the anti-design group Memphis in 1981. Memphis was made up mostly of young designers who, along with Sottsass, were interested in producing radical objects and furniture that debated the relevance of modern design.

Mod. Canada
Ettore Sottsass
Produced by Poltronova

Circa 1960

Teak wood and fabric upholstery
71 x 90 x 76 cm

Literature
Domus 343 (June 1958), p.27
Domus 356 (Luglio 1959), p.19
Pier Carlo Santini, Artigraf Edizioni, Firenze, ristampa, 1996, p.87
Hans Höger, Ettore Sottsass Jun. Designer, Artist, Architect, Tübingen, 1993, p. 78

Dining table
Ettore Sottsass
Produced by Poltronova

1960

Rosewood and painted metal
H120 x 128 diam

Litterature
Domus 353(aprile 1959), p. 42

Manufactured by Sant Ambrogio e De Berti
Ettore Sottsass
Important and rare mirror

2 smoked glass mirrors and 1 white mirror
Lacquered brass frame and original label with date
H196 x L61 cm

Literature
Design Ettore Sottsass produzione Santambrogio e De Berti (Lissone) 1958, cm 196×61.
Bibliografia: Edoardo Paoli, Quaderni Vitrum n. 8, specchi e specchiere, pag. 124 modello simile.

Mirror
Ettore Sottsass
Mirror
H120 x L60 cm

Literature
Domus n.339, 02/1958, specchi e parete