This cabinet is part of a series of eight pieces that Ettore Sottsass presented at the Stedelijk Museum in 1990, during the exhibition ‘Energies’. In the catalogue, he said: ‘What I want is to give people an excuse to stand still and really look at an everyday object.’ No matter how monumental the appearance of Sottsass’s works, they nearly always have a functional purpose. This cabinet might appear to feature an altar, but the doors can be opened as usual to store things inside.
The plastic laminates that Sottsass used in this design had been some of his favourite materials since the 1960s. They frequently appear in his work, particularly in 1981-1985, during the period of Memphis, the design collective that he founded. The use of such cheap materials in bright colours and in designs for serious objects was seen as revolutionary at the time. Together with the use of non-modernist – sometimes even retro – forms, this became an important characteristic of Postmodernism.