Ettore Sottsass

Bibliographical notes

Ettore Sottsass, known as Ettore Sottsass Junior, was born in Innsbruck in 1917, his father was an architect (homonymous) and his mother was Austrian, he died in Milan in 2007. He was an Italian architect, designer and photographer. During his career, he dedicated himself mainly to the creation of furniture, jewelry, glass, lamps and objects for home and office. In addition, he also dedicates himself to the design of buildings.

The famous architect moved to Turin where he graduated in 1939 at the Polytechnic in Architecture. He then founded his architectural and design studio in Milan in 1947, after having met Giuseppe Pagano.

Later, during the early 1950s, he moved to New York, where he worked for the designer George Nelson. After returning to Italy, he founded the Memphis group with designers such as Hans Hollein, Andrea Branzi, Michele de Lucchi. He then founded his architectural firm Sottsass Associati.

Collaborations and works of Ettore Sottsass

There are many collaborations that the designer and architect started during his career, including those with Poltronova, Olivetti and even Superstudio and Archizoom Associati. With Olivetti in particular, the relationship lasted for over thirty years. Sottsass designed for the company the first Italian electronic calculator: “Elea 9003” (1959). He also designed several typewriters, including the “Praxis” in 1964, “Tekne” in the same year and “Valentine”, in 1969 along with Perry King.

During his years of activity, the architect increasingly sees design as a tool of social criticism, he even states:

“il design è un modo di discutere la vita. È un modo di discutere la società, la politica, l’erotismo, il cibo e persino il design.”
( Design is a way of discussing life. It’s a way of discussing society, politics, eroticism, food, and even design.)

Ettore Sottsass builds, through design, a true metaphor of life, design – according to the well-known architect – must first of all teach something about life.

He goes beyond the idea that the ornament is a fault by creating new aesthetic canons, easily recognizable in works such as the “Dining Chair” or the floor lamp “Svicolo”, characterized by pop colors.

In open clash with mass production in Italy, since the nineties, he reduces collaborations with other designers, devoting himself to the work of architecture. Among the projects we remember for example the house Wolf in Ridgway (Colorado), the condominium of Viale Roma (Marina di Massa) and the villa Mourmans (Lanaken).

Visualizza immagine di origine
Libreria Carlton (1981)


Ettore Sottsass has been very appreciated abroad and he has received several international awards. He is the winner of the ADI Compasso d’Oro Award, in 1959. He also received an honoris causa from the Royal College of Art in London in 1976 and was appointed to the Officier de l’Ordre Des Arts et des Letres of the French Republic in 1992.

Finally, in 1994 he was awarded the IF Award Design by the Industrie Forum Design of Hannover. His works are exhibited in many museums from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Centre G. Pompidou in Paris and again the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

Antichità Giglio is interested in buying and selling works by Ettore Sottsass and design.

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