Memphis Design: It Came From the ‘80s

March 20, 2015 10:34 PM

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Memphis Design: It Came From the ‘80s

OF ALL THE TRENDS that emerged during the 1980s—DayGlo, Aqua Net-encrusted hairdos, black spaghetti—Memphis furniture surely ranks among the least likely candidates for revival. The movement, founded in 1981 by a collective of Milan-based architects led by Ettore Sottsass, was a rebellion against status-quo “good taste,” and its riotous colors, bold surface patterns and exaggerated geometries were appropriated for such pop-cultural kitsch-fests as “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” and “Saved by the Bell.” You couldn’t call it timeless.

For many postmillennial designers around the globe, though, Memphis is a major source of inspiration. “They were playful, they took risks, they thought about things completely differently,” said designer Dylan Davis, co-founder of Seattle studio Ladies & Gentlemen, which referenced elemental Memphis...

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