Ettore Sottsass Jr. Archive

Advertising graphics projects for the Carpano company (1948) © Fondazione Giorgio Cini
"Spugnato" plastic laminate designed by E. Sottsass (1978) © Fondazione Giorgio Cini
E. Sottsass and T. Tateishi, detail from the photolithograph of the series “The Planet as Festival” (1972) © Fondazione Giorgio Cini
Color slides of Memphis ceramics © Noemi La Pera
Advertising poster for the Alfa Romeo Giulietta by Fiorucci, E. Sottsass and A. Branzi (1978) © Fondazione Giorgio Cini
E. Sottsass and E. Vedova at the opening of Sottsass's solo painting exhibition at the Galleria del Cavallino in Venice (May 1955) © Fondazione Giorgio Cini

2018 – Ongoing

In 2018, part of Ettore Sottsass’s archive was donated to the Fondazione Giorgio Cini. The Ettore Sottsass Jr. fund consists of more than 100.000 items testifying to ninety years of intense activity as an architect, designer, graphic designer, writer and artist.

current équipe

  • Valentina Venturi | Fondazione Giorgio Cini
  • Irene Bigolin | Fondazione Giorgio Cini
  • Veronica Giannella | Fondazione Giorgio Cini
  • Dario Peluso | Fondazione Giorgio Cini
  • Joan Porcel | Fondazione Giorgio Cini

the project

Ettore Sottsass Jr. (Innsbruck 1917 – Milan 2007) was an Italian architect and designer. His professional activity has been characterised by continuous influences of his fields of interest: from art to interior architecture, urban planning to photography, industrial design to design as a tool for social criticism and research that has engaged him for decades.

He has collaborated with various Italian and international companies (Poltronova, Olivetti, Artemide, CIRVA, Venini, Kartell, Vitra, etc.), artisans, and private individuals. One of the founders of the Memphis group in the early 1980s, he has gained the attention of the international design scene and has been invited to exhibit in numerous group and solo exhibitions throughout the world.

In 1979 Ettore Sottsass donated to CSAC a selection of materials – sketches, drafts and drawings – extracted from his professional files and personal papers from the period 1922-1978, testifying his visual and design research; some of his sculptures are also preserved.

Another part of his archive was donated to the Bibliothèque Kandinsky of Centre Pompidou in Paris. This donation consists of documentation dated between 1937 and 2010, including writings, photographs, posters, notebooks and notes, his library and the Olivetti sub-fund.

On 3 December 2018, Barbara Radice donated Sottsass’s professional archive to the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, including architecture, interior design and design projects, manuscripts and typescripts related to editorial projects, photographic material, catalogues, posters, graphic art, documents from the Memphis group, professional and private correspondence, publications by and about Sottsass, and a collection of baskets and other objects made of woven organic material.

Ettore Sottsass’s archive not only provides an insight into his thinking and working practices but also brings out a vision of the archive itself as an instrument of self-representation and preservation of his legacy.


The objectives of the project include the description, digitisation, preservation and enhancement of the archive, aimed at providing access to previously unpublished primary sources for a broader audience.


1. preliminary phase

After a preliminary study of the documents led by ARCHiVe, the donation of the archive was formalised in 2018. A preliminary description of the fund and an inventory control have been carried out, in order to plan the next steps.

2. Digitisation

The aim of the project is the digitisation of the entire archive, which contains a wide variety of document types and media. For this reason, the ARCHiVe team employed different methodologies and tools for digitising documents: Replica 360 recto/verso, V-Scanner and the Vacuum table. The digitisation, which is still in progress, has led to the production of over 50.000 files.

3. New Script Development

ARCHiVe developed a new software pipeline for automatic post-production taking advantage of the most recent computer vision and deep learning techniques to process the great variety of documents in the Sottsass’ Archive. Part of the recording has already been post-produced, on a total of approximately 77.000 files.

4. Archival description and creation of finding aids

The aim is to create an inventory that serves as a guide to the content of the archive, describing its history, its internal structure, the way it was set up and preserved and the links between the documents.

5. Archival description and creation of finding aids

The inventory is created following the ICA standards for the description of archival materials – ISAD(G) – and for the description of archival authority records – ISAAR(CPF). Additionally, it includes some descriptive fields from the ICCU and ICCD standards for cataloguing cultural heritage items, such as photographs and graphic works.

6. Collaboration with Iuav University of Venice

This partnership research project led to an in-depth study of Sottsass’s design and graphic design projects, resulting in the creation of descriptive records and highlighting the relationships with documents preserved by other entities.  The results of the study will be published online enriching the general description of the fund. 

7. Future Developments

The project aims to complete the archival description and the digitisation of the archive, which will be followed by the online publication to make it accessible to scholars worldwide and to enhance the legacy of the great Italian architect.

Poster for the exhibition "Arnaldo Pomodoro e Ettore Sottsass jr. Smalti su rame", Galleria Il Sestante, Milan (1958) © Fondazione Giorgio Cini
Graphic design drafts for a cigarette pack for Fiorucci (1976) © Fondazione Giorgio Cini
INA-Casa plan, project for a residential complex in Carmagnola (Turin): heliographic copy of a planimetry (1951) © Fondazione Giorgio Cini
Layout study for the article "La casa con la bambina cinese" (Domus, n. 406, 1963) © Fondazione Giorgio Cini
Exhibition of ceramics "Menhir Ziggurat Stupas Hydrants and Gas Pumps" at the Galleria Sperone in Milan (April 1967), article published in Domus, n. 455 (1967) © Fondazione Giorgio Cini
Lettering drafts for the invitation to the exhibition "Ceramiche delle tenebre" at the Galleria Il Sestante in Milan (May 1963) © Fondazione Giorgio Cini

Research project

The archive of Ettore Sottsass Jr.: inventory and digital register of the industrial and graphic design work


In 2019, the Fondazione Giorgio Cini and the IUAV University of Venice promoted and funded a two-year research grant aimed at studying the materials relating to the design and graphic design projects preserved in the Ettore Sottsass Jr. archive.

The project, led by research fellow Marco Scotti with Fiorella Bulegato as the scientific supervisor, resulted in the creation of in-depth descriptive records of the documents. The research also highlights the historical context and the connections between Sottsass’s different projects and related documents held in other institutions, such as the Bibliothèque Kandinsky of the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Centre for Studies and Archives of Communication (CSAC) of the University of Parma and other research centres and companies with which Sottsass has collaborated over the years.

The study’s outcomes will be published online enriching the general description of the fund.


The archive is currently still being processed, as is the online publication of the digital files.

Consultations are available by appointment, please provide the reason for your request to and/or

© Noemi La Pera for Fondazione Giorgio Cini
© Noemi La Pera for Fondazione Giorgio Cini
© Noemi La Pera for Fondazione Giorgio Cini
© Noemi La Pera for Fondazione Giorgio Cini
© Noemi La Pera for Fondazione Giorgio Cini



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