For the introductory 1981 MEMPHIS set, the Ashoka table lamp is an early Ettore Sottsass lighting masterwork as iconoclastic a light/sculpture as you can find anywhere!! Ettore Sottsass’ “Ashoka” lamp is of painted metal. The little round bulbs at the ends of the lamp’s various tendrils seem almost vulnerable as if they would recoil when touched. “‘Ashoka”’ is one of Memphis’ most expensive lamps. (Horn, 1985)
It heralds its namesake, “Ashoka the Great”, an Indian emperor of the Maurya dynasty who ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent from around 268-232 BC, with numerous light sources protruding everywhere from side to side, almost Buddha-like in its ephemeral scope.
“When I was young, all we ever heard about was functionalism, functionalism, functionalism. It’s not enough. Design should also be sensual and exciting.”
Love of India
Ettore’s love of India began in the middle of his life when he tried to cure himself of a terminal bacterial disease living there under the Hindi Shaman’s watchful eye. He eventually recovered his full vigour, living a very long life.
The “infinite” lighting possibilities reflect his support of Buddhist principles in which the essence of life is “illuminated.”
Horn. (1985). Memphis : objects, furniture, and patterns. Internet Archive. Retrieved April 1, 2023, from https://archive.org/details/memphisobjectsfu0000horn
Books | Ettore Sottsass
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