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Ettore Sottsass
Ettore Sottsass & Sottsass Associati
Marie-Claude Beaud + Adrien Rovero, October 20, 2008
ETTORE SOTTSASS & SOTTSASS ASSOCIATI/Sottsass_Sybilla
ETTORE SOTTSASS & SOTTSASS ASSOCIATI/Sottsass_Sybilla
 
Ettore Sottsass on the exhibition “Exercises in Another Material”

“This project describes the efforts made during the year 2000-2001 to discover “other” possibilities of using the new man-made material called Corian®, made by DuPont and first introduced in the market in 1967: “other” possibilities of use beyond those known for some time, namely the application of the material in sheet, mainly for vertical facings or horizontal tops, which means two-dimensional surfaces… The new challenge was to envisage the use of this material on large three-dimensional structures, and the possible inclusion of these in architectural design. It wasn’t a matter of finding “solutions” to this new problem, but of examining their scope. We needed to discover how far the boundaries of this material could be stretched, the limits beyond which it droops and grows silent, becomes boring…


ETTORE SOTTSASS & SOTTSASS ASSOCIATI/Ettore Sottsass products
ETTORE SOTTSASS & SOTTSASS ASSOCIATI/Ettore Sottsass products
 
Also we needed to discover those boundaries beyond which even colors (the new colors chosen by the wise men and women at Sottsass Associati) begin to lose their intensity and their presence, to fall apart… We needed, too, to find out how the new material would cope with the proximity of other materials; ancient materials like wood, or stone, and new materials like chrome, or like violet neon light… And then, all things considered, it was a matter of people being invited to go ahead with experiments, so that ultimately “something else” could be possessed, some other occasion, some sort of vocabulary, small or large, with which to start drawing again, designing again…”

ETTORE SOTTSASS
ETTORE SOTTSASS
 
Posthum_Portrait

Ettore Sottsass was born at Innsbruck in Austria in 1917. He died in Milan on 31 December 2007. Sottsass was awarded many prizes and his work is included in the collections of the great museums. He never ceased to develop a practice that touched on art, architecture and design. Ettore Sottsass completed his studies in architecture at the école polytechnique in Turin in 1939. In 1947 he opened his own architecture studio in Milan. His activity was particularly involved in a cultural approach: he therefore participated in the Milan Triennale of art and modern architecture several times as well as in numerous exhibitions in Italy and abroad. Before 1939 and in the post-war period, Sottsass contributed to the promotion of numerous innovative design concepts on a worldwide scale. After the war he created several architectural projects, before becoming the artistic director of the furniture manufacturer Poltronova in 1957.

From 1958, he was design consultant for the Italian firm Olivetti which is notably indebted to him for the design of the Elea 9003 computer (1959) as well as the famous Valentine typewriter (1969). From the end of the 1950s, following an oriental voyage, Sottsass came up with his first ceramic. In 1960, he opened his first design office, Ricerche Design, notably collaborating with Alessi. As a precursor of the “radical architecture movement”, which was opposed to modern functionalism and rationalism, Sottsass actively contributed to theoretical debates concerning design and architecture in the 1960s and ‘70s. Having founded or collaborated with different groups such as Global Tools (1973), a veritable architectural anti-school, and Alchymia (1976), and wishing to apply the “radical” principles of the previous years to design, in 1981 Sottsass founded the group Memphis, which rapidly became synonymous with “New Design”. In the same year, he created the agency Sottsass Associati. Sottsass is particularly famous for a phrase which well embodies the spirit that motivates a large number of designers: “The designer is a sponge, certainly, but a cosmic sponge.”


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