Sidewall: Arabia Felix. Designed by Ettore Sottsass, produced by Rasch & Company. Screen-printed on vinyl. Gift of Gebr. Rasch GmbH & Co., 1995-163-18.

Happy Birthday Ettore

Arabia Felix was quite unique for the time in which it was created as it is nearly 10 feet in length and lacks a vertical repeat. The design contains cloud-like shapes totally void of color against a printed background that shades from a darker spotted blue at the top to white at the bottom. The density of the cloud shapes is greatest where the background is darkest, becoming less dense as the background color decreases, disappearing totally where the background ceases to have color towards the bottom of the wallpaper. This creates a very strong visual interest while the dotted background creates a greater sense of depth. This wallpaper was part of a collection produced in 1992 called Zeitwande which contained designs by many renowned artists and designers including Natalie Du Pasquier, Borek Sipek and Alessandro Mendini among others.

Sottsass, architect and designer, was the founder of the Memphis Group in 1981. The Memphis Group was an international collective of architects and designers known for its bright and whimsical designs, elements that appear in Arabia Felix. Its lack of continuity keeps the viewer guessing as their eyes work their way around the design. While Memphis brought Sottsass much name recognition he was perhaps best known for his bright red “Valentine” typewriter, designed for Olivetti in 1969. It came with a matching carrying case, and was popularized by its bright color. He continued designing for Olivetti until 1980.

This wallpaper was commissioned by Rasch & Company, founded in 1896. Since its founding Rasch has consistently employed the work of artists including Jean de Botton, Cuno Fischer, Salvador Dali, and Natalie Du Pasquier to create wallpaper designs, and was the producer of the first collection of Bauhaus wallpapers in 1929.

Today is Ettore Sottsass’s birthday.

Museum Number: 
1995-163-18