Ettore Sottsass and the New Memphis

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Level puts forth an effort to keep in touch with the latest in Interior Design and Architectural trends, constantly researching and developing new innovations whilst collaborating with a diverse community of professionals, experts and students.

Frequently attending trade shows and exhibitions additionally grants Level the opportunity to study and evaluate the most important contemporary trends within the industry, integrating examples of these trends into their current projects and modern system furnishings. Recently an exhibition at Triennale, Milano, based on the work of Ettore Sottsass caught the attention of Level. “There is a planet” is an exhibition dedicated to the hundredth anniversary of Sottsass’s birth, its name taken from a book depicting photographs taken by the artist during his travels of the world; the exhibition presents various areas and rooms showing his most famous quotes and architectural designs. Also exhibited are projects composed by the Memphis Group, founded by Sottsass in Milan, due to the recent reemergence of the New Memphis trend to the market; a trend that had contemporary international designers experimenting with loud colors and bizarre shapes in the 80’s.

Memphis Group was an Italian Design and architectural collective that rose to fame between 1981 and 1987, during which time they were considered the most important and influential advocates of the postmodernist movement, using bold colors and strange geometrical shapes with cheap materials such as plastic laminate. Their philosophy was to create a sense of optimism and celebrate the commonality of mass society during the 80s. “In Italy, Design is not a profession, it is a way of life” said Sottsass, as he took charge of the experiments within the group and considered methods of producing desires as opposed to functional objects, thanks to his role as a designer: a professional figure essential to translating people’s needs into aesthetical product solutions.

Throughout the different areas of the exhibition it’s possible to observe various uses of material, shape and color; the three main elements used by Sottsass in order to realize the contemporary needs of his society. During the 1972 exhibition, “The New Domestic Landscape“, held in New York’s MOMA, he imagined a new kind lifestyle in which furniture would adapt to its individuals’ needs. Within Micro Environments, he presented flexible units that would be customizable by its inhabitants. No longer using rigid fixed structures, but rather flexible, adaptive units designed to respond to a “custom-made” philosophy. Similarly to how Level approaches design, focusing on custom-made solutions, integrating dynamic and technological elements into their projects.

Micro Environments, “environmental futuristic homes”, is a setting that anticipates new ways of living, contrasting typical Design and Architecture. In contemporary offices, especially ones characterized by open spaces, individual cubes and phone booths are ever more present, inspired by Sottsass’s ideas mentioned previously in this article. Furthermore, multifunctional systems that define spaces in a dynamic way while remaining adaptable are the future of today’s co-working spaces.