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DESIGN
Ettore Sottsass: Enamels
The Vitra Design Museum Gallery opens with a show of the Memphis Design founder's definitive early work
by Ami Kealoha
on 19 July 2011
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The Vitra Design Museum (a must-see destination for design nerds), recently opened a new gallery space for small exhibitions. The inaugural show, curated by Fulvio and Napoleone Ferrari, features the lesser-known enamel designs of Ettore Sottsass. Created early in his post-war career, the designer began experimenting with geometric forms and color. He explored the complex process of enameling, and used the glasslike material to illuminate metals like copper with pure, vivid hues.

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Accompanied by sketches, the exhibit complements the larger exhibition currently on display in the museum until 3 October 2011, "Zoom. Italian Design and the Photography of Aldo and Marirosa Ballo," which also features Sottsass' work.

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In the vases pictured above, the stark industrial look of the enamel set against the natural warmth of the wood establishes a concept deeply explored in Sottsass's career. The irregular nature of the enamel, with the colors melding in a wavy line, also stands out in contrast to the polished, earthy glaze of the finely lathed wood.

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Working with copper rounds, the designer also made a series of brightly-colored paintings, defined by their geometric forms within forms. The irregularity of the enamel surface produces a vivid texture as well. It's within these early works, dating back to 1958, that lays the foundation of his style: brilliant colorways and pleasingly severe geometric shapes.

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Visit the Vitra Design Museum's site for information.

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