You’ve Been Seeing a Lot of This Mirror Lately
There’s a reason why.
Published Sep 21, 2020 12:10 AM
Sometimes the mirror is actually the one that’s the fairest of them all—especially if it’s the squiggly, sometimes white, sometimes pink one you’ve seen all over Instagram. The funny thing is, it’s hardly new—that mirror is Ettore Sottsass’s Ultrafragola, originally designed in 1970, and it’s merely having a renaissance.
Its appeal isn’t surprising—I mean, just look at it—but the mirror is part of a larger trend we’ve seen over the past couple of years: Memphis design. (Sottsass founded the Memphis Group, the collective of designers that started the movement, in 1981.) Squiggly, abstract shapes? That’s Memphis. Thick black-and-white stripes alongside pops of neon and primary colors? That’s Memphis. Elementary school jungle gym–meets–intergalactic spacecraft-style architecture? That’s right—Memphis!
The Ultrafragola (“ultra strawberry” in Italian) may predate the founding of the Memphis Group, but it’s entirely in line with that aesthetic. And somehow it strikes the ideal balance between all-out ’80s and fresh, fun, contemporary; hence its newfound stature as a status buy.
Rapper Frank Ocean has it. Lighting designer Jonathan Entler covets it. And it can also be found on 1stdibs.com. With its delightfully curvy, illuminated frame, it has become fodder for the Instagram age. But with the mirror’s roots in one of history’s most influential design movements, it’s the perfect branch between old and new. Not a bad thing to value, if you ask us. Admittedly, as a piece of history and a thoroughly iconic design, the Ultrafragola comes with a steep price, generally around $10,000. But it is definitely worthy of daydreams, no? Let’s take a look at all the ways it can be styled.
Amid Pretty Pastels
As a Dramatic End-of-Hall Accent
Sure, this mirror is functional, but make no mistake: It’s also a work of art. Here, interior designer Tasmin Johnson positioned it at the end of a short corridor to emphasize its presence.
In Lena Dunham’s New York City apartment, the mirror enjoys pride of place in the dining room. Pair it with graphic chairs and a sculptural table, and suddenly this room doesn’t feel so serious anymore.
Up Against a Textured Wall
Wallpaper, stone, brick: They’ll all go with this piece (the more pattern the better). Simply prop it up—like in the Jane Richards Interiors store—plug it in, and let it do its thing.
Lit From Within
The mirror looks great turned off, but it really steals the show when it’s lit up. The neon lights that run inside it are what give it a rosy glow, otherwise it appears white.
Contrasted With Mid-Century Treasures
It’s okay if you’re not all about Memphis; the Ultrafragola can blend in with plenty of different styles. In landscape architect Kimberly Von Koontz’s New York home, the mirror is a squiggly contrast to all the structured mid-century Italian collectibles, like a Superleggera chair.
In an All-Out Tribute
Sasha Bikoff’s display at last year’s Kips Bay Decorator Show House is anything but subtle, with a cacophony of Memphis patterns filling every inch of the space. Amid so much color and print, the Ultrafragola is actually a point of serenity.
This story was originally published on July 11, 2019. It has been updated.
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