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Step Inside an Ettore Sottsass House for a Silicon Valley Scion

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Erstwhile Memphis design group leader Ettore Sottsass is perhaps best known for the whimsical, bright-hued, geometric furnishings he designed in the 1980s—bookshelves, cabinets, tables, and more that seemed to squirm and dance like the titular Snake in the popular video game of the same era.


But the Italian-born Sottsass wasn't just an ambitious industrial designer: he was also an accomplished architect. Surface magazine's February issue takes readers inside one of only three Sottsass residences in the United States: the circa-2000 Silicon Valley home of Ideo chairman and co-founder David Kelley. Kelley told Surface how the fortuitous collaboration came about:


I always say I didn't have any choice in which architect to use. Sottsass would have killed me if I didn't have him design my house. I met him through [venture capitalist and art collector] Jean Pigozzi, who I had met through Steve Jobs. Jean and I were sitting in my office one time, and he said, "You have to meet Ettore!"It was like he had some epiphany that the two of us would get along, and we did. In '82, at the [Salone del Mobile] furniture fair, the year after the Memphis Group began, I met Ettore.

The results are eye-popping. Sottsass created a house comprising six discrete pavilions with terraces, connected by a glass atrium. Each is "completely different," says Kelley. "A different shape, a different material, and a different attitude." In one lies a barrel-vaulted home office. In another, a combined kitchen-living-dining room, "broke[n] up with a forest of human-sized cabinets," Kelley describes. Take a look and read more over at Surface.

David Kelley's Silicon Valley Home by Ettore Sotsass [Surface]
What's All the Fuss About Memphis Design? [Curbed]
All Ettore Sottsass coverage [Curbed]