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ETTORE SOTTSASS (1917-2007)
ETTORE SOTTSASS (1917-2007)

'SOUVENIR DE CHINE COMMODE', 1996

Details
ETTORE SOTTSASS (1917-2007)
'SOUVENIR DE CHINE COMMODE', 1996
produced by Galerie Mourmans, The Netherlands, in an edition of 6, teak, amboyna veneer, Formica, plastic, painted wood, with glazed ceramic cylinders
cabinet: 35½ in. (90.2 cm.) high, 63 1/8 in. (160.3 cm.) wide, 21¾ in. (55.2 cm.) deep, each ceramic column: 16 in. (40.6 cm.) high

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Lot Essay

Crucial to Sottsass's artistic and intellectual development was his intuitive decision, in the late 1950s, to abandon compliance with Western consumerism to instead concentrate upon objects, schemes and interiors that were invested with notions of empathy, spirituality and totemic resonance. It was therefore, inevitably, towards the Orient that the designer now looked, identifying in those cultures a relevant kinship between object and guardian, materials and application, craft and emotion, that was generally lacking in Western industrialisation. By 1960, Sino-Japanese emblems, motifs and geometries were already acquiring currency, most remarkably illustrated in the Tchou apartment, designed for his Milanese friend and published in Domus magazine under the sobriquet, 'Apartment for a Chinese Boy'. Widely traveled in Japan, India, and South America, Sottsass became increasingly fascinated by the powerful ancient forces prescribed by tantric philosophies, alongside parallel interests in Mayan temple architecture. These dynamics were to achieve resolution with the monumental cabinet, of temple-like form, fitted with drawers, and applied atop with illuminated beacon-like neon cylinders, that was created for the Stockholm Exhibion of 1969, to which the the present cabinet, 'Souvenirs de Chine', is evidently related. Sottsass's unique brilliance was to create objects that were able to transcend a direct, linear, interpretation of relevance and meaning, to instead supply an oblique message, encouraging a spectator-object dialogue that is personalised, and that is guided by the intangible intimacy of personal memory.

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