Triennale unveils Ettore Sottsass’ Casa Lana

Milan is celebrating Sottsass’ work with the acquisition and permanent exhibition of the interiors of ‘Casa Lana’, a faithful reconstruction of a flat in Milan he designed in the mid-1960s.

The institution in Milan inaugurated a faithful reconstruction of the Casa Lana, an apartment designed by Ettore Sottsass in the mid-1960s. © Triennale Milano Gianluca Di Ioia

A house within the ‘house of design’. The city of Milan pays tribute to designer Ettore Sottsass, one of the most extraordinary Italian talents of the 20th century.

Born in Innsbruck, Austria, in 1917, during his long career, he worked with Olivetti for over thirty years, establishing himself as one of the most important designers of his generation.

Writer, commentator, architect, all-around creative, he was awarded three Compasso d’Oro prizes for design, and together with a group of other architects and designers in 1980 was one of the founders of the legendary Memphis brand.

Today his works are in the permanent collections of some of the world’s most important museums, including the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, and the Metropolitan in New York.

Now, finally, Milan is also celebrating Sottsass’ work with the acquisition and permanent exhibition of the interiors of ‘Casa Lana’, the comprehensive and faithful reconstruction of the flat he designed in Milan in the mid-1960s for the lithographer and printer Giovanni Lana.

On the first floor of the Palazzo dell’Arte, a new hall named after the architect houses an entire room of the flat, with original furnishings and works of art, as it was extraordinarily conceived by Mr. Sottsass.

Around the room, several exhibitions curated by the director of the Italian Design Museum, Marco Sammicheli, scheduled until 2023, will explore Sottsass’ work through multiple points of view.

Installation view of Casa Lana at the Triennale. Photo by Gianluca Di Ioia © Triennale Milano.

The layout of the room and its meticulous reconstruction were the subjects of an in-depth study by the archive and the laboratory of the Triennale di Milano, in which participated, among others, Luca Cippelletti, who oversaw the installation, and Christoph Radl, who supervised the art direction of the project.

“A historic day for Milan,” said Tommaso Sacchi, Councilor for Culture of the Municipality of Milan, during the inauguration. “All this is possible thanks to the generosity of Barbara Radice Sottsass, and the intuition of Triennale to host and give new life to a great genius of the 20th century, who left a mark of great quality and importance in Milan,” he added.

“Architect Sottsass’ career has been intertwined with the history of the Triennale since the early 1950s. The traces of this presence can be found in our archives, in the memory of scholars, and of the public,” explained Marco Sammicheli, director of the Italian Design Museum.

Casa Lana is a new chapter in the institution’s collaboration with Studio Sottsass, which is already evident in the museum’s spaces thanks to a significant donation of sketches, graphics, and photographs.

“An active collaboration with Barbara Radice Sottsass will lead to the creation of a collection at the Triennale that is unique in the world. Ettore Sottsass is coming back to stay,” commented Mr. Sammicheli.

Inspired by the permanent installation, the first exhibition, ‘Ettore Sottsass. Struttura e Colore’, open until 13 March 2022, “addresses the relationship between structure and colour,” explained Sammicheli. “Where colour, in Sottsass’ work, is neither ancillary nor connotative. Colour is value, quality, code, and organism.”

Gianmaria Biancuzzi is Executive Editor of Milano Art Guide. He writes a column on photography for Exibart and previously he reported for Zero.eu from 2016 to 2020. He is the creator and co-curator of the best-selling “The Colouring Book” published by 24OreCultura in 2020.