Ettore Sottsass

The Ettore Sottsass Story

Born in Austria, Ettore Sottsass spent most of his life and professional career in Italy. In 1956, a brief stint working in the U.S. with George Nelson greatly influenced his philosophy of improving the world through design. Sottsass is most famous for founding the Memphis Group in 1981 as a reaction against bland consumerist design principals. While short-lived, the Memphis design movement resonated throughout the design world by marrying popular culture with ancient history and high art, and through its use of symbolism and unconventional materials.

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Why We Love Ettore Sottsass

As an industrial designer, architect, philosopher and poet, Ettore Sottsass believed that utilitarian objects should evoke an emotional response beyond their mere function. Most of all, he believed that the work of the designer should be a testament to the time in which it was produced, a comment on human existence and an interpretation of its "most elementary, heartfelt and intimate aspects." Through the Memphis Group, Sottsass broke all established rules of design. In the process, he stirred things up and excited generations of up-and-coming designers. Today, the design world is all the better for his rebellion.

In His Own Words

"When I was young, all we ever heard about was functionalism, functionalism, functionalism. It’s not enough. Design should also be sensual and exciting."

Noteworthy Products from Ettore Sottsass

Throughout his exciting, experimental career, Sottsass created numerous industrial designs for clients as varied as Olivetti, Fiorucci, Esprit, Knoll International, Artemide and Alessi. The Ettore Sottsass for Alessi collection includes utilitarian and, as always, lovely items like the Ettore Sottsass Condiment Set. With its unusual geometric shapes and use of color, the Callimaco Floor Lamp for Artemide lighting is an ideal example of Sotsass' work with Memphis.

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Ettore Sottsass