10 11-2016
The Memphis Design Movement

The Memphis Design Movement

Read about Ettore Sottsass's development of the Memphis Design Group and how it's making a huge come back.

The Memphis Design Movement

The unusual, ugly trend from the 80’s is making a comeback! The design known as Memphis Design is sometimes described as Pee-Wee’s Playhouse meets Miami Vice made its debut in 1981. Memphis dominated the early 1980’s design scene with its post modernist style.

The Memphis group was founded by Ettore Sottsass, an industrial designer, who gathered a group of a dozen designers and architects in Milan to form a new collective. Their work was influential and polarizing and soon Art Deco and Pop Art was derived from the Memphis Design. It is all about customization and a modular understanding of design. Its key concepts were overtly geometric shapes in bright contrasting color, graphic designs and accentuated shapes.

The Memphis Design group made many pieces that were ground breaking in the furniture design industry. Some of their pieces made lasting impressions on the world. Reproductions are now being reproduced and the eclectic patterns are now becoming part of the fashion industry.  

The famous Kartell furniture store made a tribute to Ettore Sottsass and the Memphis movement by producing new pieces and reproducing some of the earlier work. Below are some pictures of the infamous pieces of the Memphis Design Group.

(Kartell goes Sottsass: A Tribute To Memphis)


(Kartell’s Trix is a multifunctional pouf that converts into a chaise lounge designed by Ettore Sottsass in Letraset fabric.)


(The Pilastro Stool is part of the “Kartell goes Sottsass” collection and stands out for its architectural lines, which is made from mass-colored thermoplastic technopolymer.)


(Dennis Zanone, a private collector of Memphis Design, has been collecting pieces for over 25 years. This is a picture of some of his vintage 1980’s Memphis Design collection.)


(The Ashoka Lamp designed by Ettore Sottsass in 1981.)


(The Casablanca Sideboard made in 1981 is made of plastic laminate over fiberboard. This sideboard was part of the first collection of furniture by the Italian Memphis design group. Ettore Sottsass designed it to combine storage and display while also serving as a room divider. The angled arms are intended to hold wine bottles.)


(The Sirio Vase made of free blown glass was designed for the Memphis Design Group in the early 1980’s.)


(The Euphrates Vase is made of a white porcelain body and colored yellow, silver and black with a single piece of aperture at the top. Ettore Sottsass created it to resemble pipefittings.)


(The Colonna Stool designed by Ettore Sottsass can be used as either a stool or side table and is available in 5 colors.)


(The Calice Vase also part of the “new” Memphis Design movement is made from mass-colored thermoplastic technopolymer and available in 5 fun colors.)

What do you think of this post-modernist style coming back to dominate in the design scene? Could you add some Memphis Design style to your home?