"The convergence of five fluctuating levels in a context void of time and references, coming together to create a dimension which includes the past and leads to the future".
With these words, Ettore Sottsass, the renowned architect and designer as well as founder of the Memphis group, describes the image he has designed and created for Cersaie 2000, the most important international exhibition of ceramics for the building industry and bathroom furnishings. The strong emotional impact of this image will certainly be "at home" on the five continents, and perfectly expresses the formula of the event: past and future, tradition and innovation, ceramic culture and advanced technology.
The prestigious works and salient moments in the artistic life of Sottsass, who was born in Innsbruck in 1917, are innumerable. These include the architect's eminent international role in the renewal of design culture starting from the early 1950s; his collaboration with Olivetti, for whom he designed the first Italian computer and a series of electronic typewriters (including the red "Valentine" model) which earned him four Compasso d'Oro awards; and a number of ceramic pieces and furniture whose artistic importance has placed them in the permanent collections of museums such as the Pompidou in Paris, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Montreal, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, the National Museum in Stockholm, and the Mo.M.a. in New York. As a person of reference also during the dizzy years of the student protest movement, Sottsass founded a school of design and architecture called Global Tools and in 1972 received an honorary degree from the Royal College of Art in London. But it was in 1981, with the birth of the Memphis group, that Sottsass's artistic-cultural path took a further important step forward.
Memphis was the result of years of research, starting in the 1960s, aimed at giving spaces and objects new symbolic and emotional substance through a radical iconographic updating. This experience was born from the need to create not only experimental prototypes but finished pieces as alternatives to propose to the production world, seen as the primary and direct addressee of the dialogue. Many projects today emerge from the Sottsass Associates studios, ranging from industrial design for NTT, Apple Computers, and Matsushita, to the corporate image for Ansaldo and Alessi, to architectural and design works such as the interiors of the Malpensa 2000 International Airport, residential centers in China, Hong Kong, and Belgium, and urban design projects for the Korean capital Seoul.