memphis remembered memphis remembered
sep 07, 2001

memphis remembered


l:
ettore sottsass, bookcase ‘casablanca’,
memphis, 1981
r:
ettore sottsass, bookcase-studies of
‘factotum’ and ‘casablanca’,
memphis, 1980

the design museum marks the 20th anniversary of the debut of
memphis, the legendary italian design collective led by the milanese
designer and architect ettore sottsass.

memphis was a landmark in design history.
sottsass called memphis design the new international style and
plunged the sophisticated and influential milan design world into
a labyrinth of visual irony, puns and provocations.
the standards of ‘good form’ design that had been considered
unassailable for years lost their claim to timeless validity for sottsass
and his fellow-workers. the idea they had in common was to eliminate
the peaceful conformity of furniture design and present concrete
alternatives to the late 70s standard formal culture.

the playful colours, cheap materials and kitsch motifs of the furniture,
ceramics and glassware unveiled by memphis designers at the 1981
milan furniture fair split the design world and caused a media
sensation after years of drab rationalism.

lots of brightly coloured, neo-1950s plastic laminates covering
everything from crazy sideboards to bonkers beds.
was this gimcrack stuff really so influential?
had the brown-and-orange 1970s been so boring that product design
had to descend into these cartoon capers?
it was about turning the design world upside down.

the ideas of the memphis collective were embraced by design
students of the time: memphis was the major influence on
philippe starck, jasper morrison and marc newson…

    have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.

    comments policy
    LOG IN
    designboom's comment policy guidelines
    generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
    the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

    what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
    let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

    - please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
    - please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
    - please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
    - please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
    - please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
    (there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
    in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
    the best 100-200 entries too.)

    a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.

    design news