Super Sottsass

I remember quite clearly driving to Paris in 1994 and seeing for the first time the ‘Superboxes[1][2] by Ettore Sottsass on the occasion of his retrospective at the Centre Georges Pompidou.

I seem to remember — I’m not sure if this actually happened — but it now seems that somewhere along the Boulevard Périphérique, the ring around Paris, we entered a tunnel which took us all the way to the underground parking below the Centre Georges Pompidou. I like to drive in tunnels and it felt like I had lucked out in finding a secret passage to the belly of the Parisian temple of postmodernity.

In 1966, the ‘Superboxes’ — monolithic wardrobes or closets — were at the same time extremely minimalistic, seemingly a tribute to the “less is more” credo of high modernism; yet very maximalist: the colours and the laminate of these box-shaped wardrobes foreshadowed postmodernism.

In retrospect, the prefix super- in ‘superbox’ was rather popular in Italian design during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Apart from the ‘superboxes’ there was superarchitettura and Superstudio.

But even outside Italy and outside of design, super was a popular prefix. There were supermarkets, there was ‘super’ leaded fuel, you had the Lee Perry Super Ape album and the Superfly film in entertainment.

See: “I Remember