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Ettore Sottsass was born in Innsbruck, Austria, in 1917. He received his degree in architecture from the Turin Polytechnic in 1939. In 1947 he opened his own architecture and design office in Milan. Parallel to his professional work, he held solo shows of his paintings in Italy and abroad, participated in group art exhibitions and showed at several editions of the Milan Triennale. His collaboration with Olivetti began in 1958 and lasted for over thirty years, during which he received three Compasso d’Oro design awards. Among the items he designed for Olivetti are: “Elea”, the first Italian electronic calculator, in 1959; “Tekne 3”, “Praxis 48”, the red portable typewriter “Valentina” and “Sistema 45”. All throughout the ‘60s and early ‘70s, Sottsass’s work explored the themes that would stand central to his designs in the years to come: it was during this period that he laid the foundations for what would later be called Nuovo Design.
In 1970, after a tour of conferences in different British universities, Sottsass received an honorary degree from the Royal College of Art in London. Always in the second half of the ‘60s, Sottsass starts Pianeta Fresco, magazine co-edited with Allen Ginsberg and Fernanda Pivano and he is involved in the first debates on Radical Architecture, followed, at the beginning of the ‘70s, by several conceptual counter-design works.
In 1980 he founded Sottsass Associati Studio and Memphis. In 1981 the first Memphis exhibition opens in Milan. Memphis, gathering internationally known architects and designers, quickly became the symbol of Nuovo Design and point of reference for all contemporary avant-garde directions. His works are in the permanent collections of a wide range of museums: Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris; Victoria & Albert Museum, London; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; MOMA, New York; Metropolitan Museum, New York; Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Montreal; Israel Museum, Jerusalem; National Museum, Stockholm.
AVENUE ROAD carries a curated assortment of Ettore Sottsass pieces.