18 February 2016
Rather than a documentary or a biography, perhaps the best way to describe Ettore Sottsass’s world would be with LSD. As an alternative, Massimo Giacon has used the art that is most capable of promising a multisensorial experience to show us a piece of it: the graphic novel. This is how Ettore – Mr. Sottsass Jr. e il mistero degli oggetti (“Ettore – Mr. Sottsass Jr. and the Mystery of Objects”), published by 24 Ore Cultura, presents to us the universe of the Italian architect, turning not just around design, but also travel and love, records, writing and the Beat Generation. “If people were to see the world through Ettore’s eyes, they would see things in a more melancholic and loving, and certainly more enjoyable way,” reflects Giacon, a musician, illustrator and designer from Padua who has worked for Swatch, Alessi and Memphis, as well as for Frigidaire, Linus and the magazine Terrazzo, published and edited by Sottsass himself and Barbara Radice. “Ettore admitted to me that he wasn’t a great reader of comic strips, but that when he came across mine he liked them at once. I have to say that our meeting, which was a stroke of luck, changed my life,” explains Giacon. In its hundred or so pages – 32 of which are whole-page illustrations, presenting an atlas of his most significant projects and a number of his sketches – Ettore becomes a psychedelic superhero, recognizable from the moment of his birth by his bushy mustache, with the power to listen to the mysterious spirit of objects. Thus we see him flying with a cloak streaming behind him, clambering up the bookcases he designed or moving through the jungle of his textures, conversing with cats and ancient temples. Produced in three and a half months, the graphic novel has no storyline, but follows the creative flow of the artist, taking on the only form possible, that of a fantastic dream of which you can’t remember the details, just the atmosphere. The volume is part of a series telling the story of design through comics.