Ettore Sottsass Jr.

Architect (1917 - 2007)

Ettore Sottsass Jr. is considered one of the most important designers of the 20th century. He is internationally recognized for having revitalized the approach to design and architecture, by placing the focus on the spiritual and sensorial dimensions in the definition of domestic spaces and by emphasizing the importance of color and light. A consultant for the Italian furniture design firm Poltronova beginning in 1957, then for Olivetti in 1958, Sottsass designed furniture, began research on ceramics, on color and materials, as well as on figurative languages. Sottsass was seen as a pathfinder and then mentor, prefiguring the radical experiments of protest groups such as Superstudio and Archizoom in the 1960s-70s. These radical young architects were seeking a new foundation for architecture outside the dogmas of the functionalist culture. Between 1966 and 1974, Sottsass ceased his architecture practice to concentrate on writing and design and actively participated in theoretical debates. He practiced photography, created installations and developed conceptual projects that questioned the language of architecture. He thought a great deal about the environment, wrote notes on anthropology, questioning, according to Barbara Radice, the very meaning of the word to “construct”. In 1968, Sottsass co-edited the first issue of the Italian counter-culture’s first underground magazine: Pianeta fresco.

Following completion of his studies in Torino in 1939 and after working a while for his father, Ettore Sottsass Jr. founded his own firm in Milano in 1947. An architect, designer, artist and consultant for different design firms, as well as a magazine publisher and editor (including Casabella, during the 1970s), Sottsass unceasingly pursued the development of his practice at the intersection of multiple disciplines. Laureate of many prizes (he was awarded the Italian Golden Compass four times), participating in numerous international exhibitions (including Italy: The New Domestic Landscape at the MoMA in New York in 1972), Sottsass’ work is present in the world’s greatest museums. He co-founded the groups Global Tools (1973), Alchimia (1976) and Memphis (1981). In 1982, he founded the Studio Sottsass Associati.

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