Ettore Sottsass, Anti-Design and Ultrafragola

Ettore Sottsass, Anti-Design and Ultrafragola

Ultra trendy is worn by social networks, the mirror Ultrafragola de Poltronava is an intergenerational design piece.


Indeed, believe it or not, this creation dates from 1970 and is the work of legendary designer 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.


In 1956 he discovered industrial design while working in George Nelson's studio in New York. His trip to the United States also introduced him to Pop-Art and American mass culture, while his wife translator introduced him to Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac and even Ernest Hemingway.


He was hired the same year at Poltronova, foreshadowing a historic collaboration.


60s and Anti-Design


In the 60s Sottsass develops the questions of anti-design with other designers like Joe Colombo and the studios Archigram et Superstudio.

This movement is protesting against the modernism of the 50s.

Anti-design criticizes Good Design of the 50's 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 functional. The matter will no longer be the concern, it will be the color.

Kitsch inherited from mass culture as well as a form of irony then shaped Italian design.


In the end, it is the designer who takes the ascendancy over the creation and not the consumer.



THEUltrafragola Series Grigi mobile is the most perfect example. This mirror / lamp is the only piece in the collection to have been developed and produced by Poltronova, theUltrafragola floods the space with its warmth and catches the eye of anyone 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 panel of colors than what had been done by the Bauhaus and the modernists. The 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 or George J. Sowden will support him until his departure from the group in 1985 to found Sottsass Associati.

He will then work with major brands such as Apple, Fiat, Phillips, Siemens, Zanotta or even Esprit.