June 13 – 18, 2017
I believe in an all-embracing idea that someone has when he decides to become a designer. An all-embracing idea that in my case was influenced by a number of external factors…all this meant that I started to be interested in my surroundings, that I felt a desire to design environments myself or to examine my environment more closely, in order to release energy, to give stimuli for certain thoughts, or in order to provoke dreams. And this, if you like, is my all-embracing idea.
- Ettore Sottsass
From Ettore Sottsass Jr. Designer, Artist, Architect by Hans Leo Höger, 1993
New York, NY, February 17, 2017 – Friedman Benda presents a third, single-designer installation for its annual participation at Design Miami/Basel 2017, held from June 13 - 18. Featuring the work of Italian designer, Ettore Sottsass (1917-2007), one of the most influential, innovative, and prolific creators of the 20th and early 21st century. The individual experience with objects of daily life was a central preoccupation in Sottsass’ output and the visual language that developed as a result of this focus recurs in the full range of his work. This exhibition will celebrate the occasion of Sottsass’ centenary with rare works from pivotal early and late moments of his career, offering a view of archetypal forms and materials from noted projects.
Works on view include examples of furniture, lighting, glass and ceramic objects, some of which have not been exhibited or made available since they were first created. Of particular note is Hanging Lamp, 1957, designed for the Italian lighting manufacturer, Arredoluce. Last seen by the public at the 2006 retrospective, Ettore Sottsass: Architect and Designer, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the simple, stacked volumes and juxtaposition of horizontal and vertical lines of this painted aluminum and threaded nylon piece showcase Sottsass’ interest in the artistry of painting and color as well as re-creating visual stimulation with three-dimensional objects.
Cabinet, 1964 and Cabinet no. 81, 2005, are two exceptional works that are representative of Sottsass’ lifelong investigation of monolithic form and dialogue between architecture and furniture. When viewed in the same context, their formal connections become apparent despite having forty years between their creation. The early counterpart reveals Sottsass’ concentration on creating visual contrast with line and color while the later example highlights greater complexity of form and surface through its deconstructed elements and stunning wood veneer. This exhibition will mark the first public viewing for Cabinet since it was shown in Milan in 1965, and the first time it will be made available for sale since it was originally acquired.
2017-2018 will be highlighted by several institutional exhibitions of Ettore Sottsass’ work. From April 10 – July 30, 2017, the Stanze del Vetro in Venice will feature the designer’s achievements in glass; for the summer and fall, both the Metropolitan Museum of Art – Met Breuer and the Triennale di Milano have announced major surveys of Sottsass’ life and work.
About Ettore Sottsass
One of the most significant counter-forces to modernism in design history, Ettore Sottsass made monumental artistic contributions to every decade of his working life since starting his practice in the late 1940’s. His career produced a provocative body of work, including architecture, furniture, industrial design, glass, ceramics, painting, photography and a wealth of writings.
For Sottsass, creating a lexicon of design that incorporated emotive, sensorial and humanist concerns was a rebellion against post-war rationalist architecture that valued function over form and left human nature largely out of the architectural equation. From early on, Sottsass’ work was informed by and infused with visual and cultural ideologies witnessed during travel. The time he spent in New York City and California in the 1950s was instrumental for personal and professional connections he forged and contributed to the early, and ongoing dissemination of his expanding oeuvre. The visual vocabularies that grew out of Sottsass’ travel throughout India and Southeast Asia in the 1960s signify a break with the modernist mantra and set the tone for a lifetime of work. His experiences lead him to seek a spiritual connection between form and meaning, and create pieces that considered the social, cultural and technical implications of architecture and design on the way people live and interact.
Sottsass’ work can be found in the permanent collections of international museums, including the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York, NY; the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA; the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; the Design Museum, London, England; the Design Museum, Ghent, Belgium; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; M+ Museum, Hong Kong; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Montreal, Canada; the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, France; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Pinakothek der moderne, Munich, Germany; the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Netherlands; the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK.
About Friedman Benda
Friedman Benda is a gallery dedicated to presenting established and emerging designers who create historically significant work and are at the forefront of their practice. Founded in 2007, the gallery’s exhibitions and publications have played a vital role in the development of the contemporary design market and education, and take a comprehensive approach to work that intersects the fields of design, craft and art. Friedman Benda represents an international roster of designers spanning five continents and multiple generations.