Ettore Sottsass

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Ettore Sottsass, was an architect and designer whose innovative and vibrant creations have left an indelible mark on the global design landscape. We offer a free appraisal service as well as a free collection service for any items consigned to our modern design auctions. 

Ettore Sottsass Overview



Ettore Sottsass, was an Italian architect and designer, whose influence on the design movements from the mid-20th century onwards can still be felt today. Born in Innsbruck, Austria, Sottsass's avant-garde approach to design garnered swift recognition after studying architecture in Turin, Italy. His design journey began in the 1940s as an architect, before setting up his own architecture and industrial design studio in Milan. During the 1980s he went on to found the Memphis Group. This collective of daring designers and artists challenged design norms, catapulting Sottsass to international acclaim as a central figure in this revolutionary movement in design.

Memphis Design Movement

Central to the Memphis Design Movement, Ettore Sottsass played a pivotal role in rejecting the minimalism of the time. Memphis designs, characterised by vibrant colors, asymmetrical shapes, and playful patterns, stood in stark contrast to prevailing aesthetics. Iconic pieces like the Carlton Room Divider and the Casablanca Sideboard became symbols of this movement.

Artistic Philosophy

Sottsass's design philosophy was rooted in the belief that design should reflect human emotion and experience. Blending functionality with whimsy, he challenged conventional boundaries of form and function. With a discerning eye for color, shape, and cultural influences, Sottsass's designs stand as a testament to his commitment to pushing traditional design boundaries.

Notable Works

Timeless classics by Ettore Sottsass, include:

Carlton Room Divider: An embodiment of postmodern design, challenging traditional furniture rigidity with a playful arrangement of colorful geometric shapes.

Olivetti Valentine Typewriter 1969: A pop culture icon reflecting Sottsass's ability to infuse personality into everyday objects, transforming the mundane into the extraordinary.

Casablanca Cabinet 1981: An iconic piece showcasing Sottsass's use of bold patterns and asymmetry, creating a dynamic and visually striking functional art.


Ettore Sottsass's legacy transcends traditional design, inspiring generations of designers. His influence on the Memphis Design Movement continues to challenge conventions. Today, his celebrated works are featured in museums and collections worldwide, a testament to his enduring impact on the design world.

Our specialist Modern Art & Design auctions are held four times a year and cover a wide selection of furniture, studio pottery, ceramics, glass, print & multiples, paintings and more.  For a free, confidential auction valuation of your collection, to enquire about any of our lots or to enter your own collection into one of our specialist sales, get in touch: or fill in our online valuation form below. 


Modern Design Directory

Meet the Expert

James Spiridion

Auctioneer and valuer specialising in Modern Design. James has recently returned to the North West after spending the last few years as a valuer in Scotland, during that time James also featured on Paul Martin's Auction Showdown for Channel 5 as a 'Rival Auctioneer'.



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