fferta a Shiva: this how There is a planet, the exhibition on Ettore Sottsass at the Triennale Design Museum in Milan, begins. With 12 of his 100 ceramic plates (they illustrate the concept that the universe is the sole real environment) on display right in the centre of the first gallery space.
This is a striking example of Sottsass’s thinking process, an eclectic and intellectual designer who’s always linked the universe to an idea of home (or even better, a designer who’s always thought of the home as the embodiment of the universe) and who’s spent his life travelling around the world and inventing “ideal universes”.
There is a planet is a journey, a monographic exhibition that illustrates the work of this eclectic artist. Overseen by Michele de Lucchi and Chrisoph Radl and directed by Silvana Annichiarico, There is a planet puts on display the work of an architect who at the same time was also a designer, photographer and writer. And who through his notes, photographs, sketches, pottery and furniture, illustrates an extensive world where creativity and poetry take an important place.
This occasion – one hundred years from Ettore Sottsass’s birth – catapults us in a world that mixes the imaginary with reality, as well as holiday mementos and projects that never saw the light of day: on display in nine different rooms grouped under the same number of themes. This subdivision was prompted by Sottsass’s writing, and in fact the different rooms are names after his work and illustrate different moods, sensations and trends, without being in a precise chronological order.
You begin with “Per qualcuno può essere lo spazio” and then you pass to the magic of “Memorie di panna”, you find yourself contemplating “Il disegno politico” and here the fantastical “Il disegno magico”. Poetry and reality come together, the private Sottsass peeps out in the projects of the more public Sottsass.
From the entrance, walls in sky-blue encourage us to nose around and explore, on one side rooms with Sottsass’s architecture and design work, and on the other his more private life though photographs taken during his trips around the world. These are the same images the designer chose for a photographic project that was never completed, but has now been published by Electa.
The walls are mounted with writing Sottsass scribbled in capital letters; this fills the space with thoughts, notes, technical details and encourage us to reflect on the role and on the meaning of design, architecture, beauty and on how style has changed before and after the Memphis Group.
The “idea of the home” surfaces now and again, the home seen as a safe haven and a space that is created and shaped by our needs. There is a planet is an exhibition that explores space and society, giving us food for thought, but that inevitability leaves a lot of questions about who Ettore Sottsass really was unanswered. After all, this iconic designer’s universe is so vast that it’s impossible to think of containing it in only one exhibition.
Where: Triennale Design Museum, 6 viale Alemagna, Milan, Italy
When: ongoing - 11 March 2018