Designer: Ettore Sottsass (Italian (born Austria), Innsbruck 1917–2007 Milan)
Manufacturer: Rossi e Arcandi, Vicenza
Dimensions: H. 12, Diam. 13-7/8 in. (30.5 x 30.5 cm)
Credit Line: Gift of Ronald S. Kane, 1992
Accession Number: 1992.216.1a, b
The "Murmansk" fruit bowl is one of the first designs produced by Sottsass for Memphis, the group of Italian designers and architects formed in 1981 to create alternatives to the prevailing modernism of the postwar era. The name "Memphis" was taken from the Bob Dylan song "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again." For Sottsass, the name refers to both the city in Tennessee, as a typically American town and a home of contemporary music, and to the ancient capital of Egypt. Sottsass and his founding partners used the deliberate ambiguity of "Memphis" as a means to express their own varied design philosophies through their furniture, objects, and textiles. His interests include middle-class (and especially suburban) taste, Eastern and Third World traditions, and a love of unspoiled nature.
This shallow, sleek bowl of glistening silver sitting on six stepped legs evokes the exotic city of Murmansk in the northernmost region of Russia-a city of isolation and icy coldness. The fruit bowl, however, is also a work of great beauty, desirable for its usefulness and elegant design.