Ettore Sottsass, born in Austria and raised in Milan, is one of the most important designers of the late 20th century. His avant-garde, highly expressive works were influenced by political conditions and philosophical interests. His unique approach to design resulted in an eclectic body of works that include buildings, furniture, glass, ceramics and office machine design.
Sottsass is best known as the founder of the early 1980s Memphis Group collective that was made up of an international group of young architects and designers. The collective challenged the ideas that products had to follow conventional shapes, colors, textures and patterns. The bright, colorful and shocking pieces they produced reinvigorated the radical design movement. The name Memphis came from the Bob Dylan song 'Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again'. The deliberate ambiguous use of the word Memphis, which may refer to the city in Tennessse or the ancient captial of Egypt, relates to the group's myriad design practices. The present bowl, with its silvered surface and architectural legs, evokes the cold and icy city of Murmansk in the northernmost region of Russia. This piece has become an icon of the design group.
cf. Exhibition catalogue, Memphis: Céramique, Argent, Verre, 1981-1987, Marseilles, Musée de Marseille, 1991, p. 91 for an illustration of another 'Murmansk' centerpiece.
H. Höger, Ettore Sottsass Jun.: Designer, Artist, Architect, Tübingen/Berlin, 1993, p. 187 for an illustration of another 'Murmansk' centerpiece.