Oct 26, 2007

Memphis Redux

First it was the Vanity Fair photos I saw of the new DVF store in New York, featuring a totally 80s rug, then it was this article I read in the International Herald Tribune titled, "Love it or loathe it, Memphis style with its color and kitsch is back." Really read that article, because it's much smarter and more informed than what I'm about to write. Still reading this? Well, here's what I have to say: Get ready to deal with it, 80s design is returning. It makes sense, most of what's coming out of the Netherlands (paging Marcel Wanders) is inspired by the Memphis group's postmodernist intellectual humor, or the "wow effect" as Job Smeets, co-founder of Studio Job simply put it. Super-sizing, dizzy colors, gaudy patterns and cheesy motifs were part of the movement, yes (like the above photo of the Carlton cabinet, designed by Ettore Sottsass for Memphis in 1981). So why would Memphis ever return to the design scene? "It's back partly because design is currently going through another of its cyclical changes. Right now it is rebelling against the slickness of megabranding to chase the 'emotional and expressive'" writes the ITH article's author, Alice Rawsthorn. Below is a 2007 Memphis-inspired light created by British designer, Karen Ryan, exhibited at last month's London Design Festival. Case and point. Also, check some of the recent lots at big name auction houses like Phillips de Pury, where some of the most coveted furniture items were 1980s pieces by Ettore Sottsass and Andrea Branzi, both Memphis designers—pieces you couldn't give away 10 years ago.


danielle said...

Hey you should do a post about cool home office furniture in chicago. I say this for totally unselfish reasons. Yuk yuk

Anonymous said...

I love Memphis!!
Was in Venice(italy) a couple a yars ago in this very funky shop with hand painted clothing, and there was an original 80's memphis table lamp on the floor- kinda haphazardly located- I asked the owner/designer pretending not to know anything about it:"oh thats a fun lamp, would you sell it?" she just looked at me and laughed...nicely, but she knew I knew...This is why I never play poker....I am so ready for Memphis to return- so totally sick of mid-century reproductions

Anonymous said...

Link to my Memphis collection at: