Ettore Sottsass was born in 1917 in Innsbruck, Austria, but he grew up in Milan. He graduated from the Politecnico di Torino as an architect and after some turbulent years which he spent in a concentration camp, he returned to Milan where he set up his own industrial design studio.
He started establishing his name as a designer when he started working for Adriano Olivetti. His strength was turning traditional office equipment into elements of popular culture. His signature piece, however, remains a red plastic portable Valentine typewriter, which later on became a fashion accessory. His style also began to be influenced by his travels to the States and India. In 1981 he cofounded the Memphis Group, an association of young and talented architects and designers whose works are considered an expression of Post-modernism. He worked with a great number of young architects and designers. His individual career focused on architectural practice, called Sottsass Associati, which did design and architecture projects for numerous clients, including Fiorucci, Knoll Internaitonal. His international recognition is evidenced by his museum exhibition in the US, Los Angelis County Museum of Art as well the Design Museum in London.