The best of Sottsass displayed at the Triennale di Milano: furniture, design and photography. The 360° view of an artist
The words "functionalism" "functionality", "functional" have been invented in a moment of general enthusiasm, at the begining of the century. It seemed that everything would be solved through reasoning. The problem is that I don't know how to use reason to choose the flowers I want to send to my young, crazy lover. How can flowers be functional?
Here is one of the typical questions that Ettore Sottsass would make during the course of his long career, and to which the exposition dedicated to Sottsass at the Triennale tries to find an answer.
Ettore Sottsass was without a doubt one of the most eclectic and interesting personalities that inhabited the world of design in the last century.
His thousand personalities are now exposed at the Triennale di Milano in an exposition titled There is a Planet (September 15th 2017 - March 11th 2018), dedicated to the centennial of the birth of this incredible artist (Innsbruck, September 14th 1917 – Milan, December 31st 2007).
There is a planet is a project started in the 90's by a german editor and never concluded. This book, now published by Elettra, put together in five groups all of the photos that Ettore Sottsass took through the course of his numerous trips around the world.
Aside from the exposition of his famous design furniture, for the first time, a photographic path of the designer's shots has been created. Pictures of architecture, homes, doors, people, situations, everything concerning living and in general the presence of man on the planet is taken into consideration and made the main object of Sottsass's perspective.
Each element is looked at through the original and radical, as well as ironic eye, with which Sottsass had the ability to observe the world.
But the exposition doesn't stop with the photos. The designs of the artist are also exposed, with suggestions and notes which he left through time.
Diaries, pages, phrases of his designs... Sottsass creativity doesn't stop for anything. Just as an erupting volcano, his thoughts were outlined black and white on the first place they could find.
Many of these literary finds help us to understand more of his personality as a designer and the philosophy behind his creations:
I was starting to think that if there was any sense in making objects, it was that they would help people live, I mean it could not be other than to perform a kind of therapeutic action, to deliver to the objects the function of soliciting the perception that everyone has or could have in their own adventure.
(Esperienza con ceramica 1970)
These were the thoughts of Sottsass about design. This way, aside from giving the aesthetics of the post-war period a fresh new look (using colors in an innovative way), for the first time he adds an ethical element in his work as an architect. Sottsass wants to design for the people and to help them in their life, which is a daily adventure. Because of this Sottsass wants to know every person for whom he designs: dinners, meetings, outings... He must know which are the demands and the personalities of his clients berore working for them.
The monographic exposition at the Triennale di Milano tries humbly to reconstruct the complex path of its multi-faceted career, composed of a range of very extensive activities: architecture, design, photography, painting, objects, furniture, sculpture, glass, ceramics, editorial activities and writing.
An inedited and interesting path that will make us discover more of the complex personality of one of the biggest artists of the last century.
We close this brief review with the words of Sottsass:
To me, the most important thing about artists is their life: everyone's lives are more important than their "work". Everyone should always tell their life's story and write immense diaries, indeed, everyone should just live, I mean KNOW how to live. Our works are just wandering corpses. Instead, I'd like to know about the life of every piece of dust under the mounds of all the necropolis of the world. This is why i don't go to museums anymore, and when I go I get an infinite melancholy: I think of all the things behind those works.
Maybe its with this perspective that we should look at the exposition dedicated to him.