Designed for Poltronova by Ettore Sottsass jr., Ultrafragola is a mirror lamp, part of the Mobili Grigi series, presented in 1970 at the third edition of Eurodomus.
With Ultrafragola, without doubt, a landmark of the radical Italian design, Sottsass wants to break the mold. He escapes the classical golden frame of traditional mirrors, and he also wants to represent the duality of life. When switched off, it is nothing more than a piece of gray furniture, lifeless, while when it is lit, it comes to life and enlightens the surroundings, creating a unique atmosphere thanks to its unique light. It is the real protagonist of the scene.
The Inspiration Behind Ultrafragola
The muse, the main inspiration behind this unique mirror lamp, is the female figure, the body curves, and the long, wavy hair. Indeed, the shape of the frame recreates the soft curves and curls of the hair. Furthermore, this mirror is a tribute to Lewis Carroll and his novel “Alice in Wonderland.” The height of almost two meters makes the mirror look like a door, “an access to far-off worlds.”
Description and Main Characteristics
The exact dimensions of the item are 100 cm wide, 13 cm deep, and 195 cm high. The heart of the project is the frame. It is a bright frame, made of PETG white opaline thermoformed. Every frame ever produced has been thermoformed from the original mold of 1970.
Ultrafragola is not just a mirror but also a lamp. The big frame contains an originally pink LED lamp of 410cm, which diffuses the light at 360°. In particular, this feature is the key to create different effects and impressions based on the context and the background.
The Mind Behind Ultrafragola
Born in Innsbruck in 1917, Ettore Sottsass jr. is one of the most significant and well-known international architecture and design figures of the 20th century. After graduating from Politecnico di Torino in 1939, he began, in 1946, his collaboration with the renowned magazine “Domus.” From that moment on, he opened his architecture and design studio, and he became Adriano Olivetti’s consultant (with whom he worked for thirty years and won three Compasso d’Oro awards). In the 1950s, he became creative director of the Poltronova brand. The twenty-year-long collaboration with Sergio Cammilli, the founder of Poltronova, allowed him to experiment in the design field. However, his work was too far ahead of his time to be accepted. Later in 1981, with collaborators, friends, and internationally renowned designers, he founded the Memphis group, a “new design” symbol. Products of these years are, for example, Carlton bookcase (1981) and Casablanca sideboard (1981).
Poltronova – “Dedication, Quality, and Care”
Poltronova brand, born in Toscana in the 1960s, gathered at that time all the most qualified personalities in the field of design.
It all started as a collaboration between Sergio Cammilli and Ettore Sottsass. They adopted a method that allowed all kinds of expressions of the many souls and artistic phenomena that coexisted in Italy in those years. This open-mindedness that saw far beyond the limits imposed by the market and the public taste at that time, allowed to create an accessible environment to experiment. That’s why we can find so many completely different objects in their catalogs from significantly different designers, such as Gae Aulenti, Giovanni Michelucci, Archizoom, Superstudio, Mario Ceroli, and De Pas D’Urbino and Lomazzi, to name a few. The pieces of furniture created in these surroundings rediscovered colors, materials, and decorative details.
Joe armchair, designed by De Pas D’Urbino and Lomazzi (1970)
Mies lounge chair and footrest, designed by Archizoom (1969)
Superonda dynamic sofa, designed by Archizoom (1967)
Loto table, designed by Ettore Sottsass jr. previous to the Mobili Grigi series (which includes Ultrafragola) (1963-1964)