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Ettore Sottsass Furniture

Ettore Sottsass Jr. (Italy, 1917–2007)
Ettore Sottsass Jr. (Italy, 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.

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Creator:Ettore Sottsass
Dealer:ASH NYC
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Pausani Desk Lamp Ettore Sottsass for Artemide
By Ettore Sottsass, Artemide
Located in New York, NY
"Pausania" green and perforated steel desk lamp by Ettore Sottsass for Artemide.  
Category

1980s Italian Mid-Century Modern Vintage Ettore Sottsass Furniture

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