Trendwatch: The Memphis Revival

Memphis inspired cushion Etsy.jpg

Led by Ettore Sottsass, Memphis Milano was a 1980s design movement that centred around a Milan based collective of young furniture and product designers who set out to challenge the concepts of modern design that were prevalent at that time.

In the words of Dennis Zanone, who has a vast personal collection of Memphis Milano design, and who I interviewed for Obsessionistas back in 2011, it was "a reaction to the 'form follows function' design thinking of the banal late 70s beige and black and chrome glass that was considered modern at the time."

It's been attracting a revived interest over the past few years. First there was the postmodernism show at the V&A in London, then last year trend forecaster Li Edelkoort curated an exhibition for Design Indaba exploring the parallels between the Memphis movement of the 1980s and contemporary South African design. Darkroom, one of my favourite London independent stores, also recently hosted an exhibition called So Sottsass celebrating bright tribal graphic prints inspired by the Memphis era. The Memphis colour palette - bold primary colours clashing with pastels or black and white - somehow feels really contemporary right now.

Here are a few Memphis inspired designs that have caught my eye recently. If you are interested in reading more about some of the original 1980s pieces you might enjoy taking a look at Dennis Zanone's amazing collection here or on Flickr.

Above: Memphis inspired cushion designed by Etsy seller Depeapa.


The Curve Chair by Wrong for Hay features a textile designed by Nathalie Du Pasquier, one of the original founding members of the Memphis group.


Geometric Memphis style table table by Adelaide based husband and wife design duo Daniel Emma.


Darkroom's So Sottsass exhibition.


Drinks cabinet by Johannesburg husband and wife design team Dokters and Misses.


Table by Konstfack Collective - exhibited at Stockholm Furniture and Light Fair recently.


Threshold bookends by Brendan Timmins - a Philadelphia based designer who has created a number of Memphis inspired pieces.