Monday, May 10, 2010
Ettore Sottsass - Memphis.
Ettore Sottsass was an Italian architect and designer of the late 20th century. His body of designs included furniture, jewelry, glass, lighting and office machine design.
Sottsass was best known as the founder of the early 1980s Memphis collective.
Sottsass was born September 14, 1917, in Innsbruck, Austria, and grew up in Milan, where his father was an architect. He served in the Italian military and spent much of World War II in a concentration camp in Yugoslavia. After returning home in 1947, he set up his own architectural and industrial design studio in Milan.
Sottsass made his name as a designer who, through colour, form and styling, managed to bring office equipment into the realm of popular culture.
In the early 80's Sottsass and an international group of young architects and designers came together and formed the "Memphis Group".
Memphis was launched with a collection of 40 pieces of furniture, ceramics, lighting, glass and textiles.
The groups colorful, ironic pieces were considerably different from his earlier work. It was considered as one of the most characteristic examples of Post-modernism in design and the arts.
In contrast the Memphis Group offered bright, colourful, shocking pieces. The colours they used contrasted the dark blacks and browns of European furniture. It may look dated today but at the time it looked remarkable.
Their main aim was to reinvigorate the Radical Design movement. The group intended to develop a new creative approach to design.
Many of the pieces featured in the exhibition were coated in brightly, colourful laminates. Laminates are most commonly used to protect kitchen furniture and surfaces from staining as a result of spillage. The group specifically chose this material because of its obvious ''lack of culture''.
The group may no longer exist but it has certainly influenced graphic design, restaurant design, fabrics and furnishing.