Art Central 2021

Ettore Sottsass, Shiro Kuramata, Valentina Loffredo

19 – 23 May 2021

Art Central, Hall 3FG, Hong Kong Convention and exhibition centre

The encounters between the two creators featured in this project, Shiro Kuramata and Ettore Sottsass, were magical. When Kuramata received a letter from Sottsass asking him to join Memphis, he was so elated that he said, “I got a love letter from Sottsass! “.Sottsass also said in an interview, ” I thought Kuramata was someone special. It was like lovers from Brazil and New Guinea. Have you ever fallen in love? It’s similar to that feeling.” Their interaction began in 1981 with Memphis, a project that had a tremendous impact on the design world. At that time the economies in Europe, North America, and Japan were cooling down after the postwar period of growth, and in the design world doubts were being cast on modern design that in its pursuit of function and rationality had great sway in the 20th century ever since the Bauhaus movement.

Sottsass called on designers all over the world and launched Memphis as a solution to the question. As a new design that transcended modern design, they came up with furniture and lights that possessed eccentric forms and colors that seemed to ignore function. Kuramata and Sottsass kept pursuing their dreams and concept of beauty and explored possibilities in creation while developing their friendship through dialogs in the language of design – Sottsass form the background of western ideology, and Kuramata forms a Japanese sensibility. The creations generated in those exchanges – whether in architecture, the interior of product design awakened our senses, evoked deep emotions, and led us to realize the joy of being alive. Despite the difference in expressive styles, their work conveys the same stance towards pursuing design as “culture” that goes beyond the category of mere “civilization”.The meaning of “design” and “creation”, may change drastically as today’s excessive market economics and materialistic society comes under fire. Shiro Kuramata and Ettore Sottsass are trying to get us to ask, “What is an unconstrained free spirit?” and “What is design in the true sense?”.