Memphis Group
Milan

The Memphis group was set up by Ettore Sottsass and a group of Italian architects and designers in the 1980s. They wanted to rebel against conservative, monochrome furniture and add an injection of colour and humour into furniture design. Once described by brand consultant Bertrand Pellegrin as a "shotgun wedding between Bauhaus and Fisher-Price" their furniture was the epitome of post-modern exuberance which many found tacky. Made with laminates for its 'tasteless' appeal, the designers mixed the dark colours of classic European furniture with primary brights to create pieces that were groundbreaking in their day. From shelves made of asymmetric geometric shapes to lamps in the shape of cars, their work was challenging because it put form over function. The Memphis group saw their own work as a 'fad' and in the late 1980's the group was dismantled. Although their pieces were far too way out, too '80s' for most peoples' tastes, they are collectable pieces once purchased by the likes of Karl Lagerfeld and David Bowie. The Memphis group have influenced the world of design beyond home interiors. Many of their concepts have not only reappeared on the catwalk over the decades, they have also inspired shop and restaurant interiors with their bold and playful colours and shapes. Made with laminates for its 'tasteless' appeal, the designers mixed the dark colours of classic European furniture with primary brights to create pieces that were groundbreaking in their day. From shelves made of asymmetric geometric shapes to lamps in the shape of cars, their work was challenging because it put form over function. The Memphis group saw their own work as a 'fad' and in the late 1980's the group was dismantled. Although their pieces were far too way out, too '80s' for most peoples' tastes, they are collectable pieces once purchased by the likes of Karl Lagerfeld and David Bowie. The Memphis group have influenced the world of design beyond home interiors. Many of their concepts have not only reappeared on the catwalk over the decades, they have also inspired shop and restaurant interiors with their bold and playful colours and shapes.

Connor McNally

Author: Connor McNally

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