Memphis Again Showcases Bold Designs From the Iconic 80s Movement

The early 80s was a time that saw the iconic Memphis Group founded by Ettore Sottsass bloom as both a movement and collective of like-minded artists and designers. While some called it a fad, much of the work can be considered groundbreaking with its bright color palette, clashing patterns, and asymmetrical shapes. To celebrate the postmodern movement, the Triennale Milano and Memphis Milano are presenting an exhibition directed and curated by Christoph Radl called Memphis Again. The exhibition, which showcases more than two hundred pieces of furniture and objects – including bookshelves, dining tables, lamps, room dividers, coffee tables, sofas, desks, chairs, flower pots, fruit bowls, rugs, and more – runs through June 12, 2022 at the Curva gallery at the Triennale.

Memphis does not deny functional utopia, but it looks at functionality with a wider vision, more as an anthropologist than as a marketing specialist. Function therefore not only in respecting ergonomic norms or salability statistics, but also in respecting a vision of public necessity, a historic push.

– Barbara Radice in 1981

The objects are on display in chronological order down a hall that spans more than 100 meters (approx. 328 feet) long. Visitors move through the space along to music by Seth Troxler so that it feels like a nightclub.

Designers with work on display are Ettore Sottsass, Michele De Lucchi, George J. Sowden, Martine Bedin, Andrea Branzi, Shiro Kuramata, Marco Zanini, Matteo Thun, Peter Shire, Aldo Cibic, Nathalie Du Pasquier, Gerard Taylor, and Masanori Umeda.

I would have loved to suggest a sort of non-cultural iconographic, a culture that belongs to no one (not an anonymous culture), but the iconography of a culture that is not used and not usable, not because it doesn’t exist, not even because it is not utilized, but because it can’t be looked at, because it is not considered, because it doesn’t belong, because it looks like it doesn’t exist in known culture, and maybe it doesn’t even produce culture. These areas of non-culture, these areas of “no one’s culture” do exist.”

– Ettore Sottsass

Carlton by Ettore Sottsass

Madras by Nathalie Du Pasquier

Brazil by Peter Shire

Castilian by Aldo Cibic

D’Antibes by George J. Sowden

Dublin by Marco Zanini

Ginza by Masanori Umeda

Gritti by Andrea Branzi

Le Palme by Gerard Taylor

The Memphis Again exhibition is on display through June 12, 2022 at Triennale Milano. More information here.

Exhibition photos by Delfino Sisto Legnani e Alessandro Saletta – DSL Studio.

Caroline Williamson is Editorial Director of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.

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