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Design - Designs for 'Carlton' bookcase and 'Casablanca' sideboard
  • Designs for 'Carlton' bookcase and 'Casablanca' sideboard
    Sottsass, Ettore Jr, born 1917 - died 2007
  • Enlarge image

Designs for 'Carlton' bookcase and 'Casablanca' sideboard

  • Object:


  • Date:

    1981 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Sottsass, Ettore Jr, born 1917 - died 2007 (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pen and ink, coloured chalk, bodycolour

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased from the Memphis Design Group via Barbara Radice for £500

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case TOPIC, shelf 7

These designs are for funcitonal pieces of furniture, although they flout any traditional expcectations and preconceptions of how a set of shelves should look and work. The 'Carlton' has the character of a playful anthropomorphic being, like a stickman or insect, as inteded by the designer. Both designs have a speckled effect on the base, a surface decoration technique derived from patterns used for plastic laminates form the 1950s and which was used extensively by the Memphis group.

These pieces of furniture clearly show how Ettore Sottsass, in a conscious bid to create objects using 'non-cultural imagery', drew on a wide range of cultural references not previously associated with design. He founded the Memphis design group in Milan in 1981 to explore the potential impact of aricher visual design language. The group's aim was to produce everyday objects but wiht a high aesthetic quality, created through the application of bright colours and decoration onto imaginative forms. Memphis wanted to challenge the relationship between manufacturers and customers where the makers were led by consumer demand for standardised commodities, which was the culmination of mass-machine production for mass markets.

Physical description

Design for 'Carlton' bookcase and 'Casablanca' sideboard.


1981 (made)


Sottsass, Ettore Jr, born 1917 - died 2007 (designer)

Materials and Techniques

Pen and ink, coloured chalk, bodycolour

Marks and inscriptions

1.5.81 / SOTTSASS
Inscribed top left

Inscribed left edge.


Height: 220 mm, Width: 140 mm

Descriptive line

Designs for 'Carlton' bookcase and 'Casablanca' sideboard, 1981 by Ettore Sottsass Jr

Labels and date

Designed by Ettore Sottsass Jr (Italian, b.1917)
Black and coloured felt-tip pens, coloured chalk

The Memphis group of designers, founded in 1981, was
widely regarded as a hothouse of exotic design, in revolt
against the stolid mass of traditional furniture on the one
hand and the cool minimalist clichés of modernism on the
From its beginning the Museum has collected important
contemporary, as well as historic furniture designs. An
exhibition of Memphis furniture and designs held in this
gallery in 1983 made clear the significance of the Memphis
group and resulted in the acquisition of a selection of
drawings by its members, including drawings showing
the working out of ideas at an early stage.

Purchased from the Memphis Design Group via Barbara Radice for £500
E.414-1986 [1990]

Subjects depicted



Designs; Furniture; Paintings; Images Online; Anthropomorphism


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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