The years in between 1957 and 1961 are crucial to Sottsass’ career. He was educated at the Polytechnic University of Turin and, fully in line with his rationalist education, started to build up an oeuvre consisting of simple geometrical patterns. In 1958 he investigated the complex technical process of enamelling and explored its artistic possibilities. The vitreous nature of enamel gives a physical thickness to surfaces, irregular yet smooth and shiny, and offers the possibility to use pure and extraordinarily vivid colours. Sottsass was clearly enchanted by the material quality of enamel and attached it to wooden vases and metal plates.
In the vases he designes the enamel is exalted by contrast with the natural warmth of the wooden bases. The exhibition sheds light on this highly productive designing period in Sottsass’ career and provides a valuable insight into the development of his oeuvre. Sottsass’ is best known for designing the iconic red plastic Olivetti Valentin typewriter (1969) and the expressive Carlton bookcase (1981).