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Ettore Sottsass Jr.


The son of an architect, Ettore Sottsass Jr. (1917-2007) was born in Innsbruck, studied in Turin and graduated from the city’s Polytechnic Institute in 1939 before starting to work with his father in 1945.
After opening his own practice in Milan he became interested in industrial design and interior design.
His work with ceramics and jewellery is known for its expressive power and personal study and analysis of colour (an aspect which is still a constant in all his work).
Going beyond the Rationalist movement of his day, Sottsass forged his own path in design, creating objects which are very different from one another and have a strong emotional component.
His projects for Triennale di Milano and, above all, with Olivetti (starting in 1957), for which he designed famous typewriters such as the Praxis 48, Lettera 36 and Valentine, have gone down in the history of design.
Also for Olivetti, Sottsass designed Elea 9003, the first Italian computer, which won him a Compasso d’Oro in 1959 (he won a second one in 1970 for Valentine).
His in-depth formal research, continuous focus on new avant-garde movements, experimentation and conceptual art made Sottsass an outstanding member of and source of inspiration for numerous currents in design of the ’60s in Italy and Europe. He created experimental furniture (including a number of unique pieces) and participated in the famous 1972 exhibition about the home habitat of the future at MoMA in New York entitled Italy. The New Domestic Landscape. In the early '80s he established the Memphis group, concerned with production of objects and furniture, and his own practice, Sottsass Associati, concerned with architecture as well as design.
His partnerships and friendships with artists and critics were very important to Sottsass’s career. From the ’90s on he focused on architecture, primarily homes and urban planning.
Over the course of his long career Sotsass has been awarded numerous awards and acknowledgements, including the title of Chevalier de l’ordre des arts et des lettres in France (1992) and honorary degrees at Rhode Island School of Design in the USA (1993) and at the Royal College of Art in London (1996).
Ettore Sottsass selected works
- Village of single-family homes, Singapore, 2000
- Etnoteam, Milan (Italy), 2000
- Interior of Malpensa 2000 Airport, Milan (Italy), 1998
- Nanon home, Lanaken (Belgium), 1998
- Golf club and Resort, Zhaoqing (China), 1996
- Erg Petroli image, with Sottsass Associati, 1993
- Mayer Schwarz Gallery, Beverly Hills, LA, California (USA), 1989
- Alessi showroom, Milan (Italy), 1987
- Esprit showroom, Düsseldorf-Hamburg (Germany) and Zurich (Switzerland), 1985-1986
- Porcelain and blown glass vases for Memphis, 1983
- Park Lane table for Memphis, 1983
- System of signs and graphic programme for Fiumicino Airport, Rome (Italy), 1977
- Olivetti Valentine typewriter, with Perry King, 1969
- Lettera 36 typewriter, with Hans Von Klier, 1968
- Lucrezia chair and Asteroide lamp for Poltronova, 1964-1968
- Praxis typewriter, 1964
- Tekne 3 typewriter, 1962
- Elea 9003 computer, 1959
- Installation of the Glass Hall at the 11th Triennale in Milan (Italy), 1957
- Ina-Casa homes, Meina-Carmagnola, 1952-1954

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