Ettore Sottsass


Ettore Sottsass was an Italian architect and designer. His work was devoted to the creation of furniture, jewellery, glass, lamps, objects for the home and office, as well as the design of many buildings and interiors. Raised in Turin, he graduated in Architecture at the Turin Polytechnic in 1939. In 1947 he founded his own architecture and industrial design studio in Milan, where he worked with various media. In 1956, Sottsass moved to New York where he began working in the studio of the designer George Nelson. His return to Italy was marked by the beginning of an important association with Poltronova (1957) and Olivetti (1958).

The relationship with Olivetti lasted over thirty years, and among the most iconic products he designed we would mention the first Italian electronic calculator, Elea 9003 (1959) and many typewriters, including the renowned Valentine. From the end of the 60s to the 70s he collaborated with Superstudio, Archizoom Associati and Alchymia, within the Architettura Radicale movement. Together with the Alchymia group, at the Design Forum in Linz (1979) he exhibited the Seggiolina da pranzo (the dining chair in chromed iron and Abet Print laminate), the Svicolo standard lamp (which produces lights in pop colours, by virtue of pink and black neon) and the coffee table Le strutture tremano (the structures tremble): objects characterized by contrasting colours and materials. These experiences were to lead to the founding of Memphis in 1981, which he headed. In the mid-1980s, with the Sottsass Associati architecture studio, he also designed elaborate shops and showrooms, corporate identities, exhibitions, interiors, consumer electronics and furniture of all kinds.

Ettore Sottsass won numerous international awards and was the winner of four ADI Compassi d'Oro. His works are exhibited in the permanent collections of many museums around the world, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

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