Some projects speak for themselves and need no explanation, because they embody the history and thinking of their day. Thus the 1959 Compasso d'Oro was awarded to the Olivetti Elea 9003 computer. This was not just a prize for its brilliant designer–who went on to win two more during his career–but a tribute to an era and its aspirations. Ettore Sottsass, with an accent on the ‘a’, was a shining and revolutionary talent, a man of his time as well as a trailblazer. An artist, even if he preferred the definition of architect. Sottsass was certainly much more than a simple designer of objects and buildings. Over the course of his long life he gave us unforgettable objects like the Olivetti Valentine typewriter and the colourful Casablanca sideboard, but he was also and above all a tireless cultural animator who contributed, via his passion and his inexhaustible creativity, to the modernisation of Italy and to the history of international design.