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Ettore Sottsass (Innsbruck, 1917 – Milan, 2007) graduated at the Politecnic in Turin in 1939, he started his activity in Milan, where in 1947 he opened his own design studio. In the 70’s he started his collaboration with Olivetti, creating with them a range of office furniture and equipment. A very versatile artist with many interests – he was involved in the various fields of artistic expression. Foreseeing years of social unrest, he perceived design as an instrument of social criticism and hence gave way to Design Radicale (1966-1972) providing a new aesthetically outlook on design that was more ethically, socially and politically inclined. Having moved away from the voracity of what the industry had to offer, he got closer to the avant-guarde, to Pop Art, to plain and down-to-earth conceptual influences, proposing an alternative design in respect to that imposed by the advertising media at the time. After the experimental works for Poltronova as their artistic director, Sottsass’s utopian had it’s climax in Italy with the exhibition “The new domestic landscape” at the MoMA in New York 1972.
After that he involved himself with the group Alchimia, engraving his own ideology and that of “Design Radicale”, in an alchemy of shapes, colors, materials which overturn the aesthetically standards and the way design is conceived compared to decoration. In 1981 he set up the Memphis group, a group that has radically changed the scenario of Italian and world design. His interest in Ceramics and design continued during his professional career which led him to meet Bitossi Ceramics in 1958. This is when he started to create ceramics under the supervision of Aldo Londi. The relationship lasted for almost 50 yrs. The ceramic totems, can be recalled dating from 1962-1967 and the ceramics for Memphis, from the 1980’s.
His works make part of the most important collections and were exhibited in the most renowned international museums, such as Moma, V&A, Pompidou museum and Triennal of Milan. He was honored with numerous international awards and has been the winner of the Golden Compass in 1959.
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