The influence of Ettore Sottsass and The Memphis Group
Italian architect and designer, Ettore Sottsass, and The Memphis Group have long been considered part of an underground art movement, debunking the ideas and meaning of modernism. While Sottsass and his colleagues were once thought of as radical artists and designers, their influence has started to seep into the work of interior designers and those making product for the home – appropriate considering we are living in radical times. On my recent visit to New York, I visited the Met Breuer to see the exhibition, Ettore Sottsass: Design Radical. Featuring iconic works by Sottsass such as the Carlton bookcase as well as furniture, objects, jewelry and textiles by Memphis designers and their contemporaries, the exhibition is a testament to individualism and the power of visual stimulation through color and form. I especially loved seeing a graphic textile designed by Nathalie du Pasquier; a neon acrylic Cabinet de Curiosité by Shiro Kuramata; and reproductions of Sottsass’s drawings, with descriptions of his affection for places and things such as India, food, objects, and design.