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Memphis Milano - the style of the 1980s


"The Joy and the Laughter"
Sep 22, 2008
Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA

Memphis Milano is the style of architecture that defined the 1980s/early 1990s.

The Memphis Group was an Italian design and architecture group founded in Milan by Ettore Sottsass in 1982 that designed Postmodern furniture, fabrics, ceramics, glass, and metal objects from 1981 to 1988.
The Memphis group's work often incorporated plastic laminate and was characterized by ephemeral design featuring colorful decoration and asymmetrical shapes, sometimes arbitrarily alluding to exotic or earlier styles.

On December 11, 1980, Ettore Sottsass organized a meeting with designers, and in 1981 formed a design collaborative named Memphis. The name was taken after the Bob Dylan song "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again" which had been played repeatedly throughout the evening's meeting. They drew inspiration from such movements as Art Deco and Pop Art, including styles such as the 1950s Kitsch and futuristic themes.
The group produced and exhibited furniture and design objects, annually from 1981 until 1988. The result was a highly acclaimed debut at the 1981 Salone del Mobile of Milan, the world's most prestigious furniture fair.

The group's colorful furniture has been described as "bizarre", "misunderstood", "loathed", and "a shotgun wedding between Bauhaus and Fisher-Price".

While created in the 1980s, the colourful geometric style became most popular and widely accepted in the 1990s, where it had an impact on the design of furniture, architecture, and household items.
Memphis designs served as inspiration for the Fall/Winter 2011–2012 Christian Dior haute couture collection fashion show, for the Winter 2015 Missoni collection, and fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld collected Memphis pieces. Musician David Bowie was also a major collector of Memphis; after his death, his collection was auctioned off at Sotheby's for a total of £1,387,000.


Memphis Milano in pop culture:

Back to the Future II (the Cafe '80s, Hill Valley, CA, USA, 1989)

Nickelodeon Studios (1990)

The MTV logo:

The Double Dare game show set (1986-1993)

The Max (Saved by the Bell):