Design Knowledge Intermediary
Ettore Sottsass
(By Ayhan Ensici)

Ettore Sottsass was born in 1917 in Innsbruck, Austria. He studied architecture in Turin Politecnico and then founded his own architectural and product design firm in 1947. In 1958 he joined Olivetti as design consultant. He founded Memphis Design Groups in 1981. In his carier of over 50 years he created architectural, interior, product and grafic designs which can be held as the most effective works of the 20th century. He was honoured with lots of awards, his designs were exhibited in many museums. He held many seminars throughout the world and presented one-man show in many bienals. At the same time he wrote for Domus. He is held as one of the greatest designers of the world. At the age of 85, he still continues to design and create.

What is the joy of design? Where does the joy start?

I don't know how to answer. Very mysterious event

How do you feed your designer core?

Eating, sleeping, when it happens making love, going around, listening to people, looking, reading, dreaming. Living.

On which side do designers have to stand? Manufacturer or user?

A real industrial designer has to stand on both sides. I am a "theoretical" designer, so I'm staying on the side of design, which means on the side of users.

Does the definition of design change after the recent technological and economical developments?

History is moving all the time and so is the use of industrial design. Industrial design is very much conditioned by the changing of industrial culture, that's very much conditioned to its economic development.

Do design and art have to support each other?

Both have to support life. That's the problem.

Do you think of product design as being small-sized architectural projects?

Sometimes yes, sometimes not. "Conforme" as they say in Venice.

What are the milestones in your professional life?

Life and professional life are a permanent comedy with up and down moments. I am not able to separate ups from downs.

What defines the life of a product design?


Do you think that Computer Aided Design is a medium for the designers who work for the industry or is it a device for accelerating the creative process?

The computer is like a hammer; so how is the hammer accelerating the creative process? I don't know.

You had the chance to work with some Turkish industrial designers. Do you have an idea about Turkish design and designers? Do you notice some cultural influences in their job?

The Turkish industrial designer I met, is a lady who's name is Defne Kotz. If I can notice some cultural influence in her work it comes, I think, from the cultural Turkish tradition.

What should the priorities of design education be?

Philosophy. I think designers should be taught about the methods of thinking.

Have you got a chance to glance at Designophy web-site ?

Not at all. I don't look at any web site.



Culture you appreciate?

Country you want to live in?
Italy or everywhere.

Cuisine you enjoy?
Every simple popular cuisine.

Drink you prefer?
I was drinking bottles of vodka during the nights while I was working. Now, because I drank too much vodka, I'm drinking water.

Painter who influences you?
I had a painter as a master. His name was Luigi Spazzapane.

Author you like?
One of the many authors I like is Sappho.

Book genre you prefer?
Preferences change during my life. I started with pre-socratic thinkers to romantic French and Russian novels, to essays on geology, pre-historic archaeology, to Sumerian archaeology and very ancient archaeology in general, to anthropology and blah, blah, blah...

Movie you like?
"In the mood for love"

Film director you like?
Chinese director Zang Ymou and Iranian director Rastami.

Music you listen?
Classical western, classical carnathi Indian, flamenco, gipsy violin, American jazz, Bob Dylan.

Design you like?
Since few years I'm training myself not to judge or at least to judge as little as possible and to develop instead kindness and compassion.

Designer you respect?