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Ettore Sottsass

Italian, 1917-2007

An architect, industrial designer, philosopher and provocateur, Ettore Sottsass led a revolution in the aesthetics and technology of modern design in the late 20th century.

Sottsass was the oldest member of the Memphis Group — a design collective, formed in Milan in 1980, whose irreverent, spirited members included Alessandro Mendini, Michele de Lucchi, Michael Graves and Shiro Kuramata. All had grown disillusioned by the staid, black-and-brown “corporatized” modernism that had become endemic in the 1970s. Memphis (the name stemmed from the title of a Bob Dylan song) countered with bold, brash, colorful, yet quirkily minimal designs for furniture, glassware, ceramics and metalwork. They mocked high-status by building furniture with inexpensive materials such as plastic laminates, decorated to resemble exotic finishes such as animal skins. Their work was both functional and — as intended — shocking. Even as it preceded the Memphis Group's formal launch, Sottsass's iconic Ultrafragola mirror — in its conspicuously curved plastic shell and radical pops of pink neon — embodies many of the collective's postmodern ideals.

Sottsass's most-recognized designs appeared in the first Memphis collection, issued in 1981 — notably the multihued, angular Carlton room divider and Casablanca bookcase. As pieces on 1stDibs demonstrate, however, Sottsass is at his most imaginative and expressive in smaller, secondary furnishings such as lamps and chandeliers, and in table pieces and glassware that have playful and sculptural qualities.

It was as an artist that Ettore Sottsass was celebrated in his life, in exhibitions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, in 2006, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art a year later. Even then Sottsass’s work prompted critical debate. And for a man whose greatest pleasure was in astonishing, delighting and ruffling feathers, perhaps there was no greater accolade. That the work remains so revolutionary and bold — that it breaks with convention so sharply it will never be considered mainstream — is a testament to his genius.

Average Sold Price
$3,915
Styles
Materials
Related Creators
Glass Pendant by Ettore Sottsass for Vistosi
By Vistosi, Ettore Sottsass
Located in Dronten, NL
Clear glass over white glass pendant with clear red glass ribbon, designed by Ettore Sottsass for Vistosi. Height adjustable steel cable. The original white enameled steel canopy is...
Category

1970s Italian Mid-Century Modern Vintage Ettore Sottsass

Materials

Steel

Venini Oman Vase in Gray, Red & Aquamarine by Ettore Sottsass
By Ettore Sottsass, Venini
Located in Brooklyn, NY
Venini Oman glass vase in Gray/red/aquamarine by Ettore Sottsass. Handblown glass. Numbered edition for year Color: Gray/Red/Aquamarine Dimensions: Ø 33.5 cm, H 40 cm Year of ...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Italian Modern Ettore Sottsass

Materials

Blown Glass

"Hsing" vase by Ettore Sottsass
By Ettore Sottsass
Located in PARIS, FR
Golden vase model 'Hsing' by designer Ettore Sottsass, 1980s. Ettore Sottsass collaborated in the 1970s with Alessi, Baccarat, and Knoll, creating everyday objects for them. This sta...
Category

Late 20th Century Ettore Sottsass

Materials

Ceramic

Black Synthesis Letter Tray by Ettore Sottsass for Olivetti
By Ettore Sottsass, Olivetti
Located in Brooklyn, NY
An early 1970s design by Italian master Ettore Sottsass, the Synthesis line of office organizing pieces was produced by Olivetti, the famed typewriter and product company from Italy....
Category

Late 20th Century Post-Modern Ettore Sottsass

Materials

Plastic

Ettore Sottsass Coffee Table, circa 1970, Italy
By Ettore Sottsass
Located in Girona, Spain
DESCRIPTION: Ettore Sottsass Coffee table, can be divided into 7 parts giving the possibility of dozens of combinations. Very decorative piece made with wood lacquered in white. CO...
Category

1970s Italian Post-Modern Vintage Ettore Sottsass

Materials

Wood

Ettore Sottsass Coffee Table, circa 1970, Italy
Ettore Sottsass Coffee Table, circa 1970, Italy
H 53.15 in W 58.66 in D 17.52 in
Ettore Sottsass “Palafitta” Table Lamp Brass Plexiglas, 1957, Italy
By Ettore Sottsass
Located in Milano, IT
Ettore Sottsass “Palafitta“ table lamp brass plexiglas 1957 Italy.
Category

1950s Italian Other Vintage Ettore Sottsass

Materials

Brass

Ettore Sottsass Pendant for Vistosi, 1975
By Vistosi, Ettore Sottsass
Located in Budapest, HU
Designed by Ettore Sottsass in 1975, this pendant for Vistosi is a true masterpiece of art. Crafted from white Murano glass, this piece radiates class and style. The striking red rib...
Category

Late 20th Century Italian Mid-Century Modern Ettore Sottsass

Materials

Murano Glass

Ettore Sottsass Pendant for Vistosi, 1975
Ettore Sottsass Pendant for Vistosi, 1975
H 9.06 in W 10.04 in D 10.04 in
“Luna” Blown glass vase resting on a marble base by Ettore Sottsass
By Venini, Ettore Sottsass
Located in Uccle, BE
Luna by Ettore Sottsass “Luna” Blown glass vase resting on a marble base by Ettore Sottsass. Very pale green glass vase resting on a gray veined white marble base. From a limited edition of 29 copies. Our example designed and manufactured in 1997 and bearing the number 1/29. Lit. : Marino Barovier, Sottsass: Glass works, 1998, p.108. Our example designed and manufactured in 1997 and bearing number 1/29. Signed with diamond point “venini 97 Ettore Sottsass 1/29”. Original transparent plastic label holder...
Category

Mid-20th Century Italian Mid-Century Modern Ettore Sottsass

Materials

Marble

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Creators Similar to Ettore Sottsass

More Ettore Sottsass Designs
Ultrafragola Mirror
Ultrafragola Mirror
Average Price
$10,942
Number Available
12
Ultrafragola Mirror
By Ettore Sottsass
Materials
Plastic, Glass, Acrylic
Styles
Mid Century Modern, Modern
Most mirrors are meant to be looked in, but some are meant to be looked at. The Ultrafragola mirror by Italian architect and designer Ettore Sottsass (1917–2007) is a classic example of the latter: It is hard to look away from its soft neon glow and sensuous curves, which resemble flowing wavy hair.  As part of Sottsass’s “I Mobile Grigi” series for the third edition of the Eurodomus trade show, the Ultrafragola, which translates to “ultra strawberry” in Italian, was designed in 1970. It was...
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Ettore Sottsass furniture for sale on 1stDibs.

Ettore Sottsass furniture are available for sale on 1stDibs. These distinctive items are frequently made of metal and are designed with extraordinary care. There are many options to choose from in our collection of Ettore Sottsass furniture, although brown editions of this piece are particularly popular. We have 389 vintage editions of these items in-stock, while there is 188 modern edition to choose from as well. Many of the original furniture by Ettore Sottsass were created in the modern style in europe during the 20th century. If you’re looking for additional options, many customers also consider furniture by Gaetano Pesce, Alessandro Mendini, and VG-VGnewtrend. Prices for Ettore Sottsass furniture can differ depending upon size, time period and other attributes — on 1stDibs, these items begin at $104 and can go as high as $88,999, while a piece like these, on average, fetch $4,267.
Questions About Ettore Sottsass
  • 1stDibs ExpertMarch 22, 2022
    Ettore Sottsass was an architect and designer. He founded the Memphis Group, a collective of designers active from 1981 to 1987. The Ultrafragola mirror is one of his most well-known designs. On 1stDibs, you can shop a variety of Ettore Sottsass furniture.
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2022
    Ettore Sottsass was from Innsbruck, Austria. He was born there on September 14, 1917, but he moved to Turin, Italy, as a child. The Italian architect and designer died in Milan, Italy, on December 31, 2007. You'll find a variety of Ettore Sottsass furniture and decorative objects on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertMarch 22, 2022
    Ettore Sottsass was inspired by many things, including pop culture, travel and various cultures from around the world. His primary objective of his work was to bring out the deeper beauty of whatever he created. On 1stDibs, shop a collection of Ettore Sottsass furniture.
  • 1stDibs ExpertFebruary 13, 2024
    Ettore Sottsass is famous for his work as an architect and an industrial designer, which spurred a revolution in the aesthetics and technology of modern design in the late 20th century. He was the oldest member of the Memphis Group, a design collective formed in Milan in 1980. Having grown disillusioned by the staid, black-and-brown corporatized modernism that had become endemic in the 1970s, the Memphis Group produced bold, brash, colorful, yet quirkily minimal designs for furniture, glassware, ceramics and metalwork. They mocked high status by building furniture with inexpensive materials, such as plastic laminates, decorated to resemble exotic finishes like animal skins. Other than his Ultrafragola mirror (1970), Sottsass's most-recognized designs appeared in the first Memphis collection, issued in 1981. They include the multihued, angular Carlton room divider and Casablanca bookcase. Shop a diverse assortment of Ettore Sotsass furniture and decorative objects on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2022
    Ettore Sottsass was a famous 20th century architect and designer known for his work in furniture, lighting, jewelry and more, as well as from his work in designing buildings. He was Italian, though he was born in Austria, and lived from 1917 to 2007. Shop a range of Ettore Sottsass pieces on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertMarch 22, 2022
    To pronounce Ettore Sottsass, say "AY-tore-ee SOAT-sas." The second syllable of the designer's surname sounds similar to the word “sauce” but with a shorter, clipped vowel. On 1stDibs, find a range of Ettore Sottsass furniture.
  • 1stDibs ExpertMarch 22, 2022
    Ettore Sottsass studied at the Politecnico di Torino in Turin, Italy. In 1939, he graduated from the institution with a degree in architecture. Sottsass began working as an artist and designer in the late 1940s. He produced furniture, ceramics, paintings, sculptures and jewelry. Find a variety of Ettore Sottsass furniture on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertFebruary 1, 2024
    Ettore Sottsass used a variety of materials over the course of his career. The Italian artist experimented with glass, ceramics, enamel, brass, textiles and more. Along with fellow members of the Memphis Group, he skewed expectations for furniture by using inexpensive materials such as plastic laminates decorated to resemble exotic finishes like animal skins. He also revolutionized ceramics through the pieces he created for the Italian maker Bitossi. On 1stDibs, shop a range of Ettore Sottsass art.
  • 1stDibs ExpertMarch 22, 2022
    Ettore Sottsass's father, also named Ettore Sottsass, designed modernist architecture. He worked for the firm Movimento Italiano per l'Architettura Razionale or MIAR. Giuseppe Pagano was the company's head architect. On 1stDibs, shop a range of Ettore Sottsass furniture.
  • 1stDibs ExpertMarch 22, 2022
    Ettore Sottsass did not design the Carlton room divider for a specific patron or client. He created the piece while working with the Memphis Group, an art collective that held joint shows from 1981 to 1987. Find a selection of Ettore Sottsass furniture on 1stDibs.

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