Invitation Memphis, September 19, 1981

A graphic story about the Italian design collective Memphis

November 5, 2021

In 1980 in Milan, Ettore Sottsass jr. and Barbara Radice founded the Memphis collective. The name was inspired by Bob Dylan’s song Stuck in a mobile with the Memphis blues again. The members were a group of international architects and designers including Michele De Lucchi, Aldo Cibic, Matteo Thun, Nathalie Du Pasquier, Martine Bedine, George Sowden, Peter Shire, Marco Zanini, Hans Hollein, Andrea Branzi, Massimo Iosa Ghini, Thomas Bley, Masanori Umeda, Michael Graves, Shiro Kuramata, Gerard Taylor and Javier Mariscal.

In stark contrast to the standardised and traditional universe of contemporary furniture, the group’s production blended new and daring colour combinations with synthetic materials, plastic laminates, and post-modern forms, creating strikingly playful, symbolic, and communicative objects. On 18 September 1981 the group’s first exhibition was inaugurated at the Arc ’74 gallery in Milan, presenting a heterogeneous collection of different types of furniture in the form of a happening. The group, conceived from the beginning as temporary, disbanded in 1988.

Nathalie Du Pasquier, Memphis: Milan - Bordeaux, Musée des arts décoratifs, 1983

The main aim of the Museo del Design Italiano is to pursue the path of enrichment and enhancement of the Archive and Collection of Triennale Milano through a dialogue with designers, artists, archives, heirs, collectors, gallery owners. This includes the donation of a corpus of Memphis posters and invitations from Studio Ettore Sottsass and currently on display at the Museo del Design Italiano.

Eddie Tucker, Memphis in Memphis, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, November 18, 1984 - February 3, 1985
Eddie Tucker, Memphis in Memphis, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, November 18, 1984 - February 3, 1985
Memphis, Seibu department store, Tokyo, November 26 - December 8, 1982
Memphis, Seibu department store, Tokyo, November 26 - December 8, 1982
The Conran Foundation, Memphis Milano in London, Victoria and Albert Museum, 7 December 1982 - 10 February 1983
The Conran Foundation, Memphis Milano in London, Victoria and Albert Museum, 7 December 1982 - 10 February 1983
Chris Garland, Michael Glascott, Chicago City Store Memphis, 1984
Chris Garland, Michael Glascott, Chicago City Store Memphis, 1984

Christoph Radl, Memphis for Print, Ettore Sottsass, 1983

Invitation Memphis, 1985

Chris Garland, David Csicsko, Chicago City Store Memphis, 1983

The invitations and posters of the Memphis group are exhibited in the Museo del Design Italiano: come and discover them on display!

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