Ettore Sottsass Collection

Ettore Sottsass was born in Innsbruck in 1917. In 1928 he moved to Turn with his family, where he graduated in architecture in 1939.

After the war he opened an architecture and design office in Milan. In 1949 he married Fernanda Pivano.

In 1956 he worked for a short time as an intern in America under George Nelson and in 1958 he started cooperating with Olivetti industries as a design consultant.

In the 70s and 80s he promoted and took part in innovative national and international experiences in the field of design and architecture, becoming an authority for the contemporary avant-garde. In 1980 he founded the Sottsass Associati firm.

An eclectic and polyhedral artist, he also took on painting, photography, jewellery as well as pottery and glass object design. He won awards in the many fields of his activity, and his works are displayed in personal and collective exhibitions in Italy and abroad, while many of his works are on permanent display at important museums.

Ettore Sottsass passed away on 31st December 2007.


Contents of the collection

In 1998 Ettore Sottsass gifted Fondazione Benetton Studi Ricerche with a number of photography prints to be displayed at the inauguration of the Riccardo and Fernanda Pivano Library. After that, he also decided to gift the part of his personal archive on Fernanda Pivano. The collection hence stands as a consistent whole of documents extracted from a larger archive.

The collection is currently divided into 341 archival units, provisionally numbered. Of these, over 300 form the main core, exclusively consisting of photographic documents (approx. 14.000 negatives, with relative contact sheets, 150 slides and 2100 photographic prints).

The images document the life, travels and encounters of Fernanda Pivano and Ettore Sottsass, in Italy and abroad, from the mid forties to the early seventies.

Most pictures were taken by Ettore Sottsass, but there are photographs by others as well.

In addition to the photographic documentation, the collection includes sundry materials concerning the editing of the “Pianeta Fresco” magazine and some books published by East 128, the publishing house founded in 1963 by Ettore Sottsass and Fernanda Pivano. This is mostly correspondence connected to the publications, draft lay outs, typescripts, drawings, photographic negatives and other material dating between 1965 and 1970 approx.

Finally, a noteworthy number of drawings with dedication, gifted to the couple by writers and artists, including Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Henry Miller and Raymond Peynet.


Research instruments

Provisional list of folders; lists of photographic documents divided by type, with relative index of the subjects. A copy of the technical sheets supplied by the Ettore Sottsass archive is available.


Accessibility conditions

Access to the collection is regulated by the archive regulations.


Methods for acquisition

The collection was gifted by Ettore Sottsass to Fondazione Benetton Studi Ricerche in 2000, and is currently deposited at Fondazione Corriere della Sera.