A Brief History: Memphis Design

A Brief History: Memphis Design

This was such a standout in our last Brief History that we thought we would dive in a little more to this awesome trend. Memphis Design is one of those design trends that REALLY makes an impact. For most of us it is burned into our brains from movie theatre carpets, but it actually goes much further than that. This style originated in the 80’s and some of the most recognizable features are:

-Laminate and Terrazzo materials, which were usually found on floors, were incorporated into tables and lamps.
-Squiggles, aka the Bacterio print, was designed by Sottsass in 1978.
-Bright, multi-colored objects with unusual shapes. For example a chair might have big round legs or triangular instead of traditional rectangles.

Even though this style is erratic and maybe even questionable that was the biggest inspiration behind the whole movement! A designer named Ettore Sottsass (mentioned above) founded the Memphis group with other designers and architects, and they set out to create a creative movement that was “radical and outrageous”. Of course, commercially it was a failure, but it found its own cult following and became quite popular. Just look at the set design for shows like Saved By The Bell, Pee-wee’s Playhouse, or every movie theatre you entered in the 80s and 90s.

While it isn’t totally shocking, like most trends, Memphis design made a come back in the early 2000s and again in 2016-2017, but this time the main focus was in the apparel industry.

Overall what are your thoughts of Memphis Design? Was it a flop from the start or is it fun? Let us know what you think!