Ettore Sottsass, Anti-Design and Ultrafragola

Ettore Sottsass, Anti-Design and Ultrafragola

Ultra trendy and carried by social networks, the Ultrafragola mirror by Poltronava is an intergenerational piece of design. Indeed, believe it or not, this creation dates from 1970 and is the work of legendary designer Ettore Sottsass.

Ettore Sottsass

Born in 1917 in Insbruck, Austria, Ettore Sottsass Junior studied architecture in Turin before working with his father and finally opening his design agency in 1947.

He discovered industrial design in 1956 while working in George Nelson's workshop in New York. His trip to the United States also introduced him to Pop-Art and American mass culture, while his translator wife introduced him to Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac and Ernest Hemingway. He was hired the same year at Poltronova, foreshadowing a historic collaboration.


60s and Anti-Design

In the 1960s Sottsass developed the questions of anti-design with other designers such as Joe Colombo and the Archigram and Superstudio studios.

This movement is protesting against the modernism of the 50s. Anti-design criticizes the Good Design of the 50s for a paradoxical social distance. While the famous “form follows function” no longer corresponds to social expectations, Sottsass associates Pop-Art with design. Sottsass shares his thoughts in Casabella magazine where he writes with his wife. Now the design will no longer be sober and functionalist. The material will no longer be the concern, it will be the color.

Kitsch inherited from mass culture as well as a form of irony then models Italian design. In the end, it is the designer who takes control of creation and not the consumer.

The Ultrafragola

The Ultrafragola from the Mobile Grigi series is the most perfect example. This mirror/lamp is the only piece in the collection to have been developed and produced by Poltronova, the Ultrafragola floods the space with its warmth and captures the gaze of any person passing by.

In line with these concerns, Sottsass founded the Memphis group in 1981. Always influenced by Pop-Art, this movement introduced a much more varied range of colors than what had been done by the Bauhaus and the modernists. Materials are also becoming much more innovative.

For example, we see the arrival of laminate while Memphis volumes and shapes mark the design of the 80s. A certain number of designers such as Michel De Lucchi, Nathalie Du Pasquier and George J. Sowden will support it until his departure from the group in 1985 to found Sottsass Associati .

He will then work with major brands like Apple, Fiat, Phillips, Siemens, Zanotta and Esprit.