by Ettore Sottsass
The Italian designer Ettore Sottsass began working in ceramics
in 1956. At first not that successful with his designs for ceramics,
Sottsass' unique designs began to take off after a stimulating visit
to India in the early 1960s.
The first ceramics after this period were called Ceramics of
Darkness. The Indian influence lingered on with the Yantra
and Tantra series. During this period, Sottsass developed
the idea of objects as diagrams, which led to his strikingly minimalist
and geometric ceramics.
Sottsass, who wrote this volume himself, speaks little of the
actual ceramic works, but rather gives us biographical details of
incidents in his life which have influenced and informed his work,
e.g. his travels to India and his fascination with Indian mysticism.
Sottsass also reveals that while he designed the many ceramic vessels
and objects depicted in the book, he made very few of them with
his own hands. This step was taken over by Italian ceramics manufacturers.
Sottsass also reveals that he always uses commercial glazes.
The fact that Sottsass made the designs for his works and seldom
executed them himself may attract the ire of some readers. Certainly
this method of production raises the questions: 'Who is a craftsperson?'
'What is a craft object?' 'Must a craft object be made by a studio
artist?' On the other hand, so many objects we see and use in our
everyday lives that we recognize as 'craft' have been made using
This volume Ettore Sottsass: Ceramics is full of
great illustrations of Sottsass' work over a period of 30 years
and offers us an interesting insight into the life of the famous