The “Kartell goes Sottsass” Exhibition
Those close to Carla Sozzani may know of her penchant for collecting mid-century modern furniture. In the past, she would often wake up in the wee hours of the morning to be the first at antique markets. Preferences aside, Sozzani’s appreciation for design runs deep, which is why design is one of 10 Corso Como’s core pillars, in addition to fashion, art, and good cuisine.
For those not familiar with the design world it would be hard to talk about design history without talking about the critical Memphis movement of the 1980’s, which originated in Milan. We looked to Keith Johnson, a long-term dealer and expert on the Memphis design movement to fill us in. Johnson became a key supporter and influencer of the movement after he, by chance, walked into the first Memphis design show in September 1981.
What is Memphis and how did it get its name? Johnson explains, “Memphis is an intensely visual, highly decorative design movement that began in Italy in 1980. The designers wanted to reflect what the world was – high culture and low culture all mixed together. Some initially called it vulgar or kitsch but that didn’t last after the whole world fell in love with it.” Johnson explains that the precursor to Memphis, was a 1970’s world dominated by modernism, and that by the end of the 70’s young Milanese designers were bored by it. This set the stage for the birth of the Memphis movement. In terms of the name, Johnson explains how the story goes. In 1980 a group of young and forward-minded designers met at the prominent designer, Ettore Sottsass’ apartment for a working session to share their designs for a new era. That night Sottsass put on Bob Dylan’s “Stuck Inside of Mobile with Those Same Old Memphis Blues,” and when another designer asked what they should call the new movement they were developing, Sottsass motioned to the record and said we’ll call it “Memphis.” The change in design, depicted more than just a change in preference. Johnson explains, “I entered a revolution, a paradigm shift in design. Memphis was the roaring 80’s. This was the first time in a generation that design became fun and accessible.”
Designer Ettore Sottsass is one of the most prominent names from the Memphis movement with his colorful and quirky designs still much loved today. Design store Kartell created the “Kartell goes Sottsass” exhibit to honor the Design Master, who in 2004/2005 created exclusive designs for Kartell. Some of these designs hadn’t been produced before and are available for the first time. These exclusive designs are now available for purchase at 10 Corso Como New York.
Items on offer include Kartell’s popular Mademoiselle chair by Philippe Starck cloaked in the bold colorful Memphis fabrics designed by Sottsass, which gives the popular chair design a post-futurist new look. Also for sale are a variety of vases, stools, and lamps by Ettore Sottsass in a range of pop colors (such as red, acid green, electric yellow, neon pink, gloss white and black) and postmodern shapes. There is no denying Sottsass’ mark on revolutionizing contemporary design through the Memphis movement. You can take home a piece of design history with one of Sottsass’ pieces–a perfect holiday gift for others, or for yourself.
The “Kartell goes Sottsass” exhibition is available for purchase at 10 Corso Como New York.
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