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Friday, December 20, 2013

Ettore Sottsass

Ettore Sottsass (1917-2008) was born in Innsbruck, Austria. He studied architecture in Turin, Italy, and opened a studio there in 1947.

He was a design consultant for Olivetti from 1958 to 1989, where he created the memorable Elea 9003 calculator and the famous red portable typewriter, commonly referred to as the Valentine typewriter, because it was released on Valentine's Day in 1969.

In the 1970s he designed housewares for Alessi, a decanter for Baccarat, a chair for Knoll and carpet for Namastre.

In the 1980s he was a founder and leading figure of Memphis, a Milan-based design group famous for brightly colored post-modern furniture, lighting and ceramics. The collection  included works in glass, acrylic, aluminum and tropical wood. His Tahiti lamp from this period looks like a tropical bird with a long yellow neck and red beak.

Sottsass was known for his playfulness, his wit and his whimsical ornamentation, but he said, "Memphis is like a very strong drug. You cannot take too much. It's like eating only cake." Even he would probably say of this room, "Out of control!"

From and

Memphis design

Valentine typewriter for Olivetti by Sottsass and Perry King

Enorme phone

Tahiti lamp

Knoll Mandarin chairs

Tartar console

Custom headboard with drawers

Nine-O chairs for Emeco

Olabuenaga House - Hawaii, USA

Wolf House - Colorado, USA

Jasmine Hill House - Singapore

Casa Cei - Tuscany, Italy

I found this brief video to be an interesting look into Sottsass's life and career.
Uploaded by DesignPublic - June 9, 2008


  1. There's a Swarowski vase by Sottsass on ebay that's going for $9,500.

    1. It will be interesting to see if anyone bids on that piece.