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A Survey Of Ettore Sottsass’s Late Masterpieces

Ettore Sottsass’s career spanned six decades, during which he changed with and defined the times.

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Even among haters of postmodernism, it’s tough to find someone who doesn’t possess a soft spot for Ettore Sottsass. That’s in part because the Italian maestro left behind such a varied legacy that includes something suited to everyone’s taste. He was responsible for Olivetti’s Valentine portable typewriter, now a bona fide classic, but he also was one of the founders of the experimental Memphis Group, churning out quirky, sculptural pieces of art-furniture throughout the ’80s. He at once changed with and defined the eras in which he lived, producing work for six decades up until his death in 2008.

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A show at New York’s Friedman Benda gallery, Ettore Sottsass: A Survey, 1992–2007, celebrates the last 15-year leg of his career, which was marked by an enduring appreciation of bold color, traditional craft, and totem-like stacks. Few designers enjoyed exploring materials more than Sottsass, mixing and matching them with artistic vision and artisanal know-how.

Check out slide show for a selection from the show; see them in person here before August 10.

[All photos courtesy of Friedman Benda]

About the author

A former editor at such publications as WIRED, Bloomberg Businessweek, and Fast Company, Belinda Lanks has also written for The New York Times Magazine, The New York Observer, Interior Design, and ARTnews.

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