MILAN, ITALY.- Italian culture and tourism minister Francesco Rutelli confirmed the death of architect and designer Ettore Sottsass, 90. He designed the popular red plastic Olivetti typewriter. He designed everyday items such as silverware, ice buckets, table lamps and office cabinets, glass and ceramics for Alessi and electronic products for Olivetti. In the 1980s he founded the Memphis design group.
He was born in Innsbruck in 1917. His father, Ettore Sottsass Senior, was an architect. He studied architecture at Turin University and later worked for his father. In the late 1950s he became a consultant to the electronics division of Olivetti. He created a series of technically innovative products including the first Italian computer, the Elea 9003, and the bright red plastic 1970 Valentine typewriter.
In 1980 Sottsass formed Memphis with a group of younger avant-garde designers from around the world, including Andrea Branzi, Alessandro Mendini Martine Bedin, and Michele De Lucchi. With the aim to revive Radical Design, and breaking the rules of the slick minimalism of the 70s, they produced products that featured plastic and laminate surfaces, kitsch geometric patterns and bright colors. Memphis captured the attention of the mass media, and dominated the early 1980s design scene. Sottsass parted with the group in 1985 to concentrate on Sottsass Associati, his Milan based architecture and design practice.