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Designer Ettore Sottsass dies aged 90

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Ettore Sottsass – founder of the avant-garde Memphis Group – has died at the age of 90.

Innsbruck-born Sottsass set up as an architect in Milan in 1947 and dedicated himself to Italy’s post-war reconstruction. But it was a spell in the mid 1950s working with industrial designer George Nelson that was to prove formative.

In 1959 he was employed as a consultant by Olivetti and began to make his name as one Europe’s most radical designers; a position secured in 1969 when he created the firm’s now-famous portable red Valentine typewriter.

As an industrial designer Sottsass worked for many clients, among them the city of Turin (where he lived and studied) for which he designed the street furniture.

In the 1980s Sottsass founded the Memphis Group, a loose collective of international designers which he named after listening to Bob Dylan’s song Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again.

A retrospective of Sottsass' work at the Design Museum in London last year highlighted the group’s work, known for its brightly-coloured furniture and plastic-coated everyday appliances.


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