80s Memphis Style
What is 80s Memphis Style you might ask? Think postmodern, think big, bold, brash. Think the 1980s as it was then. Also think rebellion.
The Memphis movement was created in Italy in 1981 by Ettore Sottsass as a reaction to the Mid-Century Modern movement that had followed the horrors of the Second World War.
Prior to the mid-80s the art-design world had for the most part followed the formulaic designs of the Post War period. Memphis sought to break out of that shell and push forward with a totally new way of thinking. Postmodernism is closely related to Memphis.
To some, it's a bit controversial. Prince Charles, for example, is not a fan, certainly when it comes to Postmodern architecture. This is because the Postmodern period sought to replicate and re-interpret designs from various stages in the past, mixing them all together into an architectural glue. Think ancient Greek columns and Florentine fountains in new build architecture from that period.
Memphis, under the leadership of Ettore Sottsass, took it to the next level. Adding a huge amount of color, geometry, abstraction, humor and irony, this style no longer tried to ape the designs of the past, but more so redefine them as stripped down to their core. It took its main influences from the Art Deco period of the 1930s as well as incorporating Pop Art and some of the kitsch design that had appeared during the 1950s. With this in mind, Memphis was able to use design as an expression, on a vast number of products, such as furniture design, rather than the elitist implementation in the fine arts until that time.
If you would like to find out more specific information on the how did Memphis style evolve from 1981, and the subsequent success of Memphis, you can do so by visiting our blog on My 80s Memphis Inspirations.
These days, the brashness that came with Memphis is generally toned down, starting from the 90s when the patterns were a little less huge and the color palettes were more subtle. This has developed over the last 30 years, although in my view the brashness is making a comeback with a dose of double irony.
One interesting question I have sought answers to is how relevant is 80s Memphis in contemporary design? In fact Memphis-inspired art and design is everywhere, from Camille Walala's public installations to contemporary interior design such as DusenDusen. In my blog about whether 80s Memphis is still relevant, I talk about these influences and how I have been inspired by 80s Memphis style having grown up in the 1980s.