The return of Memphis

Although you know it when you see it, it’s hard to accurately describe Memphis design. Eighties and nineties pop cultural references like Fisher PriceMiami Vice, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Sesame Street put the creative and colorful part your brain on the right track. Get ready, because Memphis design is coming back!

Dizzying graphics, strong geometric motifs, mixed materials, contrasting and saturated colors, and abstract shapes in short: an aversion to anything streamlined and tasteful. This is what ruled the annual Milan furniture fair (the premiere design event on the planet) last spring. Memphis is in the air, and it’s not just textiles that are seeing a Memphis revival.


The look itself has seen a revival in recent years, convincing us that the Google colors still speak to our culture today.


New furniture nowadays seems to be directly inspired by those outrageous postmodern vibes. Maybe you already noticed that the world is looking a whole lot more colorful these days?


The Memphis Group’ was founded in 1980 in Milan by Ettore Sottsass, an industrial designer, and a group of a dozen designers among others Michele de Lucchi, Andrea Branzi and Alessandro Mendini. The name of their collective, “Memphis”, was supposedly based on the Bob Dylan song “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again” which played during that initial meeting. At first, the group’s colorful furniture has been described as bizarre, misunderstood, loathed, and a shotgun wedding between Bauhaus and Fisher-Price.


No need to say that their work was influential and polarizing. They ruled the design news for seven years with brightly colored and patterned laminates and technicolor-hued furniture.


But what’s all the fuss about Memphis design nowadays? Rather than the reappearance of Memphis itself, the philosophy of Memphis seems to have infused the current bunch of up-and-coming designers. It’s clear that the Memphis myth is still influencing our taste. The conclusion? Memphis is back (although it has never been quite gone), but it has become somewhat of a lifestyle itself. The shades are a bit different than before, but the spirit stayed the same.


Also at BuzziSpace, we love Memphis & Google colors.