Six Ettore Sottsass Mandarin Chairs for Knoll

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Set of six "Mandarin Chairs" designed by Ettore Sottsass (1917-2007) for Knoll, circa 1986-1988. Black enamel steel legs with taupe leather like seats and backs. Undulating steel arms finished in a lustrous silver enamel.


    Materials and Techniques
    Good. Very good original condition with minor unobtrusive scratches to silver enamel. Minor seat wear commensurate with age and occasional use..
    Wear consistent with age and use
    32.5 in. H x 26 in. W x 24 in. D
    83 cm H x 66 cm W x 61 cm D
    Seat Height
    18 in. (46 cm)
    Seller Location
    Chicago, IL
    Sold As
    Set of 6
    Reference Number

About Ettore Sottsass (Designer)

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.

     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 these pages 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.

About the Seller

1stdibs seller since 2008

Typical response time: 2 hours

Located in Chicago, IL

  • 20th Century Specialists

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