Let Us Be Inspired By Ettore Sottsass

Because this is a design blog, among other things, let’s look at some pictures of Ettore Sottsass’ designs for inspiration, shall we?

Sottsass’ designs are easy to identify. His furniture designs, for example, are full of color, strange angles, and laminated plastic. His works are a trademark of the 1980s. In this decade, Sottsass was one of the founders and the leading figure of Memphis, the Milan design group famous for brightly colored postmodern furniture, lighting and ceramics. He wanted to bring joy and a sense of surprise to people through design and architecture. What I love the most about him is his use of colors. He thought every color has a history, and, with this in mind, he chose specific hues to give deeper meanings to his designs.

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Ettore Sottsass gave a lot of interviews during his lifetime. I found a couple of interviews he gave at the end of his life and career that I thought are especially interesting. I learned not only about his profession, but his view on life. I like listening/reading to what older people have to say about their successes, failures and evolution through life. There is so much to learn from wisdom, as I have said before. I found these interviews here and here. I chose some of the answers I liked the most to share with you. Hope you like them and his designs.

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describe your style, like a good friend of yours would describe it.

I truly believe that our duty as an architect or a designer is to design things which attract luck, rooms which protect people…

I don’t design things in any style, even less so in any fashion style,

I design things for life states.



from ‘poltronova’ to ‘olivetti’ to ‘memphis’ to your latest works with sottass associati, can you give us an idea of the evolution of your philosophy?

at the beginning, when I was young, full of presumption, theoretical, very aggressive, I was very tied to turn of the century functionalism, to the idea of functional style. but gradually I left that behind, because I found a new source of inspiration. from then on I began to try to figure out what I could be in terms of this society, the people, the necessity which surrounded me. ‘memphis’ was a sort of exercise in design, so was ‘olivetti’. they asked me to set up the design of the electronics division. at that time, electronics meant big closets… it was impossible to understand. besides the functionality, which i am still interested in, there was this mystery of electronics. I wanted to show that electronics were mysterious, that is the relationship between design and functionality, a more extensive functionality… a description of a certain conception of existence. this relationship has been and still is central in my work.

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Is there any architect or designer from past you appreciate a lot?

le corbusier. the idea of functionalism with a mediterranean touch

(a swiss who discovers the mediterranean): the walls are slightly sensorial, you can touch them (you can intervene), they are not like gropius’ german ones where you can’t do anything with them. he put toilets in bedrooms, you could see them, he understood that functionality was not only ergonomics, not only rationality, but something which went beyond them. it was functional to be a human being and to live. and then there’s also aldo rossi, certainly one of the most interesting architects. have strange angled and bright colors in laminated plastic, striped, polka-dotted and leopard-skinne. Memphis was launched in a Milan gallery in September 1981, in a near riot of 2,000 people (amazing that furniture can arouse such passions). Its original pieces now sell in auction houses for prodigious sums.

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HUO: Let’s examine the importance of fluidity and circulation between separate disciplines.
ES: However you look at it, I feel the task of the designer or the architect is to design the artificial environment, from objects to architecture, spaces, and so on. Each design corresponds directly or indirectly to an idea one has of life, of society, of the relations between the individual and society. It corresponds to the form of the weltanschauung [or worldview]; it remains the basic cultural background. And this happens in whatever you do. Whether I design a vase or design architecture, there is always this background, this basic cultural background. The difference, then, is only technical. It’s clear that if I’m designing architecture, I need to know things that are not the same as what I have to know to design a glass vase, and to design a glass vase you need to know things that are not the same as what you need to take a photograph. But apart from these technical differences — which are certainly important because they have an effect on what I can design and condition — there still remains, deep down, what I think of life, why I do things, what I imagine happens when I design something. So I don’t see the point of any clear-cut distinction between disciplines.

Take the Renaissance. It was hardly an accident that the Renaissance was a period when many artists imagined, above all, a new kind of life. They imagined a new society, a new vision of the world, a new, say, interpretation of the potential of life. They didn’t make a major distinction between Brunelleschi’s dome and the design of, say, some other work of architecture. They tackled the technical differences that might influence the way they used these different vocabularies, but nothing more.

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HUO: It’s also interesting to see what’s happening in Asia. There are a lot of Westerners, planners, who tell the politicians, “You’ve got to prevent the kind of problems we already have from taking root here.”
ES: That’s inevitable. It would be like telling someone who lives by the sea not to go out in a boat, not to go fishing, or someone who falls in the water and can’t swim not to drown. True, there’s a life jacket, but that’s not the solution. That’s why we increasingly talk about humdrum, everyday things, about private peace and quiet.

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HUO: About a micro-utopia.
ES: Yes, I think so. Andrea Branzi sent me a text where he says that we can only work on the micro-situations. That’s why I think the Dalai Lama enjoys a certain success. [Laughs] It’s got nothing to do with it, really, but classical Buddhism, not the institutional kind, had this idea of working on our micro-existence, on micro-gestures, micro-events.

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Craft & Folk Art Museum – Shop

One of my favorite things about a museum is the gift store. There, I said it. Consider me shallow, or just honest, but I love browsing through the beautiful things they carry, almost as much as I like looking at the art or bones. In these stores I find things that are different, beautiful, and interesting. Also, I enjoy buying books about the exhibitions I just saw, this helps me remember the exhibition like a hoola girl souvenir helps me remember Hawaii and enjoy it again later on.

Short detour: After two kids my memory has taken a turn for the worst, and I am afraid I will soon lose my mind. It seems that just forgetting my keys and cell phones is not enough nowadays; my brain now wants to punish me by making me forget names and stories I used to know and that made me feel smart. I blame the sleep deprivation. Is there anybody else out there losing his or her neurons? Or is it just me? Is my brain going to come back? Or, am I going to have dulled thinking abilities for the rest of my life? Please, let me know if you have the same issues. –End of the detour

In any case, buying books or beautiful things that remind me later of that particular visit to the museum, which otherwise blends and disappears into all the other visits to the museums, helping me stay engaged and connected with the art – or bones, I suppose, long after the visit.

A month ago, I went to the Craft & Folk Art Museum to see the Chris Francis shoe exhibition, which was amazing. Sadly, it has ended already so, if you didn’t make it, you missed your window of opportunity. In any case, after seeing the exhibition, I made my way to the shop, my happy place, and discovered one of the most beautifully curated museum shops in LA, and believe me, I know, as I have been in almost all of them several times.

It is a small shop, but it has handpicked items that go hand-in-hand with its mission of showcasing hand-made designs. They are beautiful, simple and a pleasure to look at.

Here are some of them, and, as you can see, they are not terribly expensive. What do you think? Do you have a favorite item?

Mt. Washington Blue Bell – $110jestcafe.com---museum-store Mt. Washington Pottery White Bell – $110jestcafe.com--museum-store-2 Brass Salad Servers – $45jestcafe.com--museum-store-3 Iringa Basket – $58jestcafe.com--museum-store-4 Telephone Wire Woven Basket – $190jestcafe.com--museum-store-5 Dani Ban Lotus Earrings – $76jestcafe.com--museum-store-6 WV Craftworks Indigo Stripe Coffee Mug – $30jestcafe.com--museum-store-7 Chan Natural Dyed Scarf – $58jestcafe.com--museum-store-8 Fait La Force Whale – $25jestcafe.com--museum-store-9 Wooldbuddy Neddle Felting Kit – $20jestcafe.com--museum-store-10 Tagua Nut Necklace – $80jestcafe.com--museum-store-11

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What I See A Lot On Pinterest – Teepee In The Nursery

Are you a mother of a small child or soon to be one? Well, then you better have a teepee in your nursery or you should go and buy one right about now if you want your nursery to be featured anywhere else than your personal Facebook page. Right now, it is all about Native American décor with a twist (what I call gentrifying Native American art). Just type nursery in your Pinterest account and 90% of the pictures will have some kind of teepee in a corner.



What is the attraction of the teepees? Well, kids love hiding and parents love when they do, so it is a win, win situation, unless the child wants you to crawl into that tiny space and read him/her some books in a very uncomfortable position, in which case you should bring up your old age, and explain in basic words why your back pain kicks in when laying on the floor in any yoga position. After one minute of explanation, your child WILL give up (I have tried it). He or she will decide that it is more fun to go inside the teepee by him/herself (or with sibling in tow) than hearing all that aging nonsense.



So, there you go, I am not only giving you great design advice, but I am also giving you clear guidelines to be a better parent, all in one blog spot. Small steps, people. Small steps.




If you are sold and have decided to buy what is also known as a tipi, here are some of your options:


Little Me Teepee – Etsy

Land of Nod


AZ Teepee – Etsyjestcafe.com--etsy-teepee Tiny TeePee – Etsyjestcafe.com--teepee-etsy1 Lil’ Brett & Co Tents – Etsyjestcafe.com-Teeppe-from-etsyMaple and Spud Designs – Etsy

If you are a hardcore DIY, first, let me say that I admire you and wish to be like you, and, second, let me show you this extremely cute teepee with a link to a step by step guide that will show you how to create it all by yourself. When done, please, send pictures my way. I would love to see it and envy you some more.

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Snooping on Etsy – Art for the Nursery

So, what is the best art for a nursery? I would say whimsical, little bit dreamy, and affordable. Something that transports you to the world of a child, a world of imagination, color, and wonder -while still being tasteful to adults who might stagger in to change a diaper.. Now, where to find art like this? Well, Etsy, of course. There are a lot of independent illustrators all over the world showcasing their beautiful work on Etsy and it is such a trip to venture into this world.

You can find prints that are funny and cute, and others more magical and dreamy. It all depends on the kind of nursery you want to decorate for your child.

My personal favorites are the images that give you a glimpse into an unknown world where things are supernatural and beautiful. Chasing the Crayon, Ashley Percival, Little Cat Draw, and Matte Stephens do this with peculiar characters in special circumstances.

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Blancucha has clean, simple and expressive illustrations. I am drawn to her characters and how effortless and unpretentious they are.


I also like the idea of illustrating cities by showing what makes them different and special. I am from LA and Confettie Love makes a colorful print that has the Hollywood sign and traffic below it. It is funny and pretty. Ilustración y Más makes a pastel version of cities around the world, though I couldn’t find one of LA. I really like the one of NY, which is just an amazing city in every sense of the word.

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Finally Fox & Velvet, I love Doodle, and Dawid Ryski go for more traditional subjects in vivid ways that will freshen up any kid’s room. I chose orange and red subjects to share with you in these pix, but they have art that beautifully features most any color you might want to have in your child’s room.

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What I See A Lot On Pinterest – Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree

Do people know that there are more than 10,000 different types of interior plants? Apparently not, because the only plant that I see over and over again in every featured home on the Internet is the Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree.




I see the appeal: big beautiful lush leaves, lots of volume, and easy to take care of, but can we agree that there are other plants in existence and that we could be more creative when deciding what to use? I am starting to think it is a requirement to have this tree in your living room if you want your house to appear in some kind of design site.



Of course, I am not immune to cute trends myself so I bought one of these trees a couple of years ago. Look at how beautiful it looks next to the white lounge chair:

Recently, I have been eager to replace it so I decided to get a 5’ tall Euphoria cactus. Look at how beautiful it looks.
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I was so excited with my choice that I went to the closest nursery that same afternoon only to find only one big problem: the price tag. Unlike my $150 Fiddle Leaf Fig tree, the cactus is $500. Apparently, they are slow growers and that is why they are so expensive. I was upset. Also, this probably means I am onto a new trend: tall cactuses as interior plants. Well, at least this time I will be ahead of it… kind of.

In lieu with this reality, I decided not to change the tree for right now and accept that my house looks like every other house featured in Domino Magazine… I wish.

For more Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree love, see below. Pretty, isn’t?


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