He’s a founding member of the iconic and influential Memphis Design Group and has been dubbed the Godfather of Italian Cool. The work, marrying unlikely combinations in colour, pattern and line, and ground breaking ideas brought him fame, and extraordinary social circles. Ettore Sottsass was one of the first industrial designers to rise to global celebrity in the 20th century. We’re not going to lie. This is a blatant Ettore Sottsass Appreciation Post.
He was born in Austria in 1917, and grew up in Milan. His father was an architect, and he followed with a degree in architecture. Sottsass strayed from buildings in the 50’s and began designing office equipment, typewriters, and furniture. He was part of the 60’s counterculture, in the 70’s a leading figure in the Radical Movement, and finally in the 80’s played an essential role in Post Modernism with his work within Memphis.
With their bizarre use of form, colour and materials, many found Memphis to be offensive. Sottsass’ pieces were a complete contrast to the black modern products of the 80’s. They are still iconic in their bright colours and bold patterns in clashing combinations of stripes, polka dots, leopard print and lots of shiny plastic. He designed metalware, glassware and furniture for the Memphis group until 1985 and disbanded the group in 1988.
Sottsass was real traveller and used a love of pop culture along with his explorations of other cultures as ammunition for inspiration. In his long career he designed furniture, buildings, ceramics, graphics, textiles, lights, jewellery and electronic products. Whether a huge urban structure or humble domestic product, his work was striking and original. A meshing of counterculture and consumerism, pop and identity all in one. He died in 2007, and his work will live forever. We’ll never stop drawing inspiration from of Ettore Sottsass. And we’ll probably never stop dreaming of owning that Carlton room divider.