Flickr Widget

Sunday, December 8, 2013


Memphis was a collective of 20-something designers who were based in Milan, Italy, and led by Ettore Sottsass, then in his 60s. The group formed in late 1980 and originally consisted of  Martine Bedin, Aldo Cibic, Michele De Lucchi, Matteo Thun and Marco Zanini, George Sowden and Nathalie du Pasquier, along with writer Barbara Radice.

The project was first called The New Design, but when Bob Dylan's "Stuck Inside of Mobile (With the Memphis Blues Again)" kept sticking on Sottsass's record player at the phrase "Memphis blues again," they decided to change the name to Memphis.

Their goal was to free themselves of modernist doctrine by employing industrial materials, as well as gaudy colors and kitschy geometric and leopard skin designs, generally found in 1950s comic books or cheap diners. They often employed spangles and glitter.

Memphis was considered sensational, and people either loved it or hated it. Some saw it as innovative and exciting. The old guard considered it tasteless and of little design value.

By 1985 Sottsass had become disillusioned with Memphis and the media circus surrounding it, so he announced that he was leaving the collective but continued to work with Branzi, Cibic and De Lucchi.


Freemont cabinet by Ettore Sottsass

First chair by Michele De Lucchi

Dublin sofa by Marco Zanini

Belvedere console by Aldo Cibic

D'Antibes cabinet by George Sowden

Carlton cabinet by Ettore Sottsass
Memphis Group in the Tawaraya boxing ring conversation pit in 1981


  1. My favourite design group, what I wouldn't give to have been there in the group collaborating and coming up with this crazy stuff!! x

    1. They definitely shook up the design world!

  2. The very top picture reminds me of a cabinet (that might be in a line Memphis related) called "Casablanca" it had the geometric patterns, hot red Formica and leopard print on it. Truly wild, sleep with your eyes open stuff!

    1. Yep, that was another of Sottsass's Memphis pieces. As talented as you and your friends are, you ought to build a replica of it for the Casablanca.