Ettore Sottsass Jr. studied architecture at the Politecnico di Torino before establishing a studio in Milan in 1947. Sottsass’s most well-known contribution to the design world came in 1981 with the formation of the Memphis Group. This collection of young architects and designers, named for Bob Dylan’s “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again,” used fluorescent colors, slick surfaces and intentionally asymmetrical shapes to create 40 pieces of furniture, lighting, glass and textiles that would become classic examples of the post-modern design movement.
Sottsass continued this philosophy with the establishment of Sottsass Associati, a design consultancy that incorporated the fresh perspectives of young, emerging architects and designers into architecture, exhibitions, interiors, consumer electronics, and furniture. Knoll’s affiliation with Sottsass Associati showed that the company was committed not only to the promotion of modernism but also to younger, more progressive schools of architecture and design.
Knoll introduced several collections by Sottsass, including the EastsideWestside Collection, the Mandarin and Bridge chairs, and the Shift and Spider tables, all of which incorporated bright colors and unconventional shapes to challenge preconceptions of furniture design as defined by the modernist movement.