Ettore Sottsass _ Early Years

// Date: March, 2018

Ettore Sottsass (14 September 1917 – 31 December 2007) was an Italian architect and designer during the 20th century. His body of work included furniture, jewelry, glass, lighting, home objects and office machine design, as well as many buildings and interiors.

Sottsass was born on September 14, 1917, in Innsbruck, Austria, and grew up in Turin, where his father, also named Ettore Sottsass, was an architect.

The elder Sottsass belonged to the modernist architecture group Movimento Italiano per l’Architectura Razionale (MIAR), which was led by Giuseppe Pagano.

The younger Sottsass was educated at the Politecnico di Torino in Turin and graduated in 1939 with a degree in architecture. He served in the Italian military, in the Repubblica Sociale Italiana, and spent some of World War II in a prison and then in a labor camp in Yugoslavia.

Ettore Sottsass _ 1969

After returning home, Ettore Sottsass worked as an architect with his father, often on new modernist versions of buildings that were destroyed during the war. In 1947, living in Milan, he set up his own architectural and industrial design studio, where he began to create work in a variety of different media: ceramic, painting, sculpture, furniture, photography, jewelry, architecture, and interior design.

In 1949 Sottsass married Fernanda Pivano, a writer, journalist, translator and critic. In 1956, Sottsass traveled to New York City and began working in the office of George Nelson. He and Pivano traveled widely while working for Nelson, and returned to Italy after a few months.

Also in 1956, Sottsass was commissioned by the American entrepreneur Irving Richards on an exhibition of his ceramics.

Back in Italy in 1957, Sottsass joined Polotronova, a semi-industrial producer of contemporary furniture, as an artistic consultant. Much of the furniture he worked on there influenced the design he would create later with Memphis Milano.

Furniture _ Ettore Sottsass _ 1946