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New Milan exhibition explores Ettore Sottsass’ experimental photography

Although primarily known for his interiors and furniture design, Ettore Sottsass also explored the possibilities of photography – using it to document his travels and landscape interventions.

Hosted at the Sala Sottsass in Milan as part of Triennale Milano, the Ettore Sottsass: Design Metaphors exhibition showcases the Italian architect’s body of photographic work, created in the 1970s when he had largely paused his design work.

Between 1972 and ’78, Sottsass embarked on what design critic Barbara Radice calls ‘a semi-nomadic life’, exploring Barcelona, Madrid, Almeria, Granada and the Pyrenees. His travels led to a series entitled Metafore, capturing ‘constructions’ on the landscape – temporary structures often made of materials including wood, ribbon, leaves or string.

Image courtesy Triennale Milano

Later photographs were taken on trips to America, Greece, the Middle East and Italy, with these latter images bringing the human figure into the landscape. ‘The themes always concern architecture as a background and support for existence, commenting on it through thoughts and occasions of everyday life, with the lightness and charm of a travel journal,’ writes Radice.

These are brought together for the exhibition, which is on display until April 21, 2024. They appear alongside a permanent collection at Sala Sottsass, which recreates the interior of a private residence he designed in the 1960s.

Photography: © Gianluca Di Ioia courtesy Triennale Milano

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