October 2018

Think back to the 1980s and more often than not you’ll think of oversized shoulder pads, bad perms and the dulcet tones of George Michael.

Whilst we vowed never to return to many of these fashions, it seems some aspects of the technicoloured 80s are experiencing a renaissance. Having banished the taupe minimalism of the late 1990s and early 2000s, the interiors world is welcoming back the adventurous spirit of the 1980s once again. Enter The Memphis Group, a group of like-minded designers who designed boldly patterned products as a reaction to the austerity of modernism being experienced at the time.

Invented in the Milanese apartment of Ettore Sottsass one night in December 1980, The Memphis Group was born. Named after Bob Dylan’s song Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again which was playing repeatedly throughout the evening, The Memphis Group’s foundations drew on the Art Deco, Pop Art and Kitsch movements. Debuting in 1981 at Salone del Mobile, the group’s work faced huge criticism, some even labelling it a shotgun wedding between Bauhaus and Fisher-Price. However, there were supporters, most notably Karl Lagerfeld and David Bowie who equipped their homes with bold objects and patterns spearheaded by Memphis.

40 years later, Memphis has come full circle and is experiencing a better reception that it first received. The Tahiti Lamp is popping up on Instagram and the group’s trademark pattern Bacterior, designed by Sottsass has now been used as inspiration for high street stores and designers. With the advent of Maximalism is seems today’s tastes are more in tune with the almost cartoon-style boldness of Memphis. 

Is this the start of something new for interiors then? Perhaps we can take inspiration from parts of the movement, infiltrating our homes and schemes with subtle nods to the colours and patterns of Memphis. One thing is for certain though, we can embrace the bold spirit of the group and feel confident to design with colour and pattern at the forefront of our minds. 

Photography via Pinterest