Ettore Sottsass: Design Radical | ITSLIQUID

Ettore Sottsass: Design Radical

Art | July 26, 2017 |

Ettore Sottsass: Design Radical
Image courtesy of The Met

Ettore Sottsass: Design Radical
July 21–October 8, 2017
The Met, NYC

 

A seminal figure in 20th-century design, the Italian architect and designer Ettore Sottsass (1917–2007) created a vast body of work, the result of an exceptionally productive career that spanned more than six decades. The exhibition at The Met Breuer, Ettore Sottsass: Design Radical, opening July 21, will reevaluate Sottsass’s career in a presentation of his key works in a range of media – including architectural drawings, interiors, furniture, machines, ceramics, glass, jewelry, textiles and pattern, painting, and photography. The exhibition will present Sottsass’s work in dialogue with ancient and contemporaneous objects that influenced his practice. This juxtaposition will offer new insight into his designs, situating him within a broader design discourse.

 

Ettore Sottsass: Design Radical
Image courtesy of The Met

 

Perhaps best known for his work with the design collective Memphis in the 1980s, Sottsass’s work evolved over the course of his career from modernism to postmodernism. Born in Innsbruck, Austria and educated in Turin, Italy, Sottsass established his studio in Milan in 1947. In his early career, he designed iconic works that reflected a functional and rationalist approach, especially as Olivetti’s design consultant in the creation of the Elea 9003 mainframe computer (1958) and numerous machines and furnishing systems. By the 1960s, Sottsass began to move away from his own modernist beginnings in favor of qualities beyond the functional: he created objects imbued with symbolism, emotional appeal, and global and historical references. Moreover, he infused modern design with a sensitivity for the human condition that many at the time felt modernism largely ignored. The shift in his ideology coincided with a broadening of influences gained through travel to the United States, where he worked briefly in the designer George Nelson’s office, and, especially, to India in 1961, as reflected in the works Ceramics of Darkness (1963) and Tantric Ceramics (1968).

 

Ettore Sottsass: Design Radical
Image courtesy of The Met

 

The exhibition at The Met Breuer will highlight landmark projects, including 5 of the original industrial ceramic totems that comprised the Menhir, Ziggurat, Stupas, Hydrants, and Gas Pumps (1965–66) project displayed at the Galleria Sperone in 1967; the iconoclastic and minimalist “Superboxes” (begun 1966); and the “Environment”—a system of modular cabinets for MoMA’s 1972 exhibition Italy: The New Domestic Landscape. Designed as a conceptual prototype/provocation in the 1970s spirit of questioning social norms, the “Environment” proposes liberation from traditional architectural structures and the social values associated with home ownership in favor of an open-source shared domestic utility catering to a more nomadic or communal existence. This sequence of visionary projects introduced many of the concepts, materials, and techniques that informed the founding of Memphis in 1981.

 

Ettore Sottsass: Design Radical
Image courtesy of The Met

 

Sottsass and a small international group of like-minded designers called themselves Memphis in a nod to the Bob Dylan song “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again,” the ancient capital of Egypt, and the modern city in Tennessee. The collective produced furnishings that were a radical departure from accepted design conventions by reinterpreting design’s basic elements: function, form, material, surface, and color. The totemic “Carleton” Room Divider from 1981 is an outstanding example; its visually disjointed form is antithetical to neatly ordered conventional bookcases. Sottsass justified the odd angles by claiming that books never stand straight anyway. Like Memphis, “Carleton” self-consciously embodies pop and vernacular references that play with perceptions of high and low—veneered in cheap plastic laminates like those used on countertops of 1950s American diners but constructed using very fine cabinetmaking techniques. While marketed and priced beyond the reach of average consumers, the example demonstrates Memphis’s insistence on a designer’s creativity and agency to determine the final product, a value that today contributes to the blurring of the art and design markets and the rise of “collectible design.”

 

more. metmuseum.org

Are you an artist, architect, designer? Would you like to be featured on ITSLIQUID platform? Send an e-mail to info@itsliquid.com or fill the form below

RELATED POSTS


CALL FOR ARTISTS: CANVAS INTERNATIONAL…

Calls | January 27, 2022

CANVAS is an International Art Fair that will present collective and solo projects by leading and emerging international artists. The 2022 edition will represent a forum for direct exchange of ideas and contacts between collectors, artists, photographers, designers and art professionals. The art fair features paintings, sculptures, photography art, installations, video art and live performance. Read more


ITSLIQUID PARTNERSHIP PROGRAM

Uncategorized | January 24, 2022

ITSLIQUID Group is a cultural hub dedicated to the organization of international art exhibitions, art fairs, competitions, and communication/marketing services in the fields of art, architecture and design. During the last 20 years, it has organized more than 250 events around the world, involving over 5.000 artists, in more than 60 international venues, making contemporary art accessible to all. Read more


ORUM RESIDENCE BY SPF: ARCHITECTS

Design | January 24, 2022

Perched atop a Bel Air hilltop, Orum is a three-level, 18,800-square-foot home designed to subtly 'float' above its environs. Given its prominent positioning above a relatively developed neighborhood, the motivation behind the design of the home was to create a residence that could meld into its surroundings while maximizing views. The three-story structure, which takes on the shape of a three-winged propeller, is wrapped in glass that mirrors its sweeping views of the Los Angeles Basin, unobstructed from the Getty Center to Long Beach, Century City, and Downtown. Read more


THE CLOUDSCAPE OF HAIKOU

Architecture | January 18, 2022

MAD Architects, led by Ma Yansong, has announced the opening of the Cloudscape of Haikou on the southern tip of China. A unique urban public and cultural space for citizens and visitors to Haikou, this flowing, sculptural concrete form was named as one of the “most anticipated architecture projects of 2021” by The Times of London. Read more


Sign up for our Newsletter.

Enter your email to receive our latest updates!