S’More Ettore

Also another follow up, but this time from back in March, wherein this writer’s esteemed collegue wrote about the Ettore Sottsass exhibit as the LACMA. This time around, we found a recent, very terrific essay by the architect Peter Zellner at Domus about Sottass’ work, the exhibit itself, and his legacy in the world of design. You’ll have to register to read the whole thing, but the site is always running interesting bits like this, and it’s free, and it’s also in Italian, so it’s well worth it. Here’s a bit to get you started:

And, were he to visit the show, Brecht might also concur that Sottsass, perhaps more than any other present-day architect or designer, has time and again rejected not only good taste, or what Flaubert termed “…the level of stupidity attained by the bourgeois”, but he has also radically cast off any number of academic and disciplinary leanings in favour of a truly sovereign, self-determining and self-regulating cultural practice. If there is a Brechtian quality evident in Sottsass’s efforts it lies especially in the designer’s insightful recognition and acknowledgment of the affiliation between human relations and material culture.

Therefore, it is worth noting that the most important disclosure delivered by this exhibition and the accompanying catalogue reveals the extent and depth of the human relationships that Sottsass has fostered across a career that has spanned some sixty-five years, bridged several disciplinary boundaries and produced numerous media and objects (architecture, furniture, glass, ceramics, jewellery and industrial design). Indeed, what stands out in this somewhat edited overview of Sottsass’s endeavours is his persistent and deeply collaborative and didactic spirit. While his work certainly retains and sustains his legacy, it is evident that Sottsass’s success, if such a term need be applied to his work, has depended almost entirely on the ongoing collaborations with artisans, galleries, craftsmen, labs, manufacturers, colleagues and clients that he has carefully seeded, nurtured and tended from his primary base in Milan. Each artefact or collection of objects is inevitably linked to a particular relationship that Sottsass has sustained and above all learned from.