March 12, 2013

Designated: Esprit Showrooms by Sottsass Associati

In the second half of the 1980s, Memphis Group kingpin/post-modern genius Ettore Sottsass designed several flagship showrooms for ultra-hip activewear brand Esprit, under the auspices of his own studio, Sottsass Associati.

Esprit Showroom Entrance by Sottsass Associati

I recently came across an overview of the 4 showrooms (3 in Germany, one in Melbourne) in a publication called “International Contract Design Volume 1″, a showcase of outlandish, super-conceptual interiors from 1988. Each is a perfectly restrained riot of intersecting surfaces, matching bizarrely luxurious textures (marble, burl, polished chrome) with extreme color pops and his signature graphic laminates.

Though the images are a bit washed-out, this is the best collection I’ve yet come across of Sottsass Associati’s commercial works, so I’m happy to share them here. What I love most is the designer’s ability to keep the forms from flying into pure whimsy with a strict adherence to geometry, creating playful dynamics through architectural juxtaposition instead of free-form expressionism (ala Gehry, et al.)