MEMPHIS MILANO

THE FIRST 40 YEARS OF A CULTURAL ICON

Memphis Milano is turning forty. From the beginning up until today,we’re celebrating the history of one of the most influential forces in contemporary design.

December 11, 1980: A group of younger designers meet in Ettore Sottsass’s living room. To the sounds of Bob Dylan’s Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again, they come up with a new design language.

A cultural movement capable of bringing together elegance and kitsch, the rational and the absurd, introducing the joy of play into the world of industrial production.

The pillars of this creative phenomenon are Ettore Sottsass and Michele De Lucchi, alongside a group of young talents who are joined by internationally renowned designers and architects.

The Memphis Goup on Tawaraya boxing ring by Masanori Umeda, 1981.
Photo © Studio Azzurro. Courtesy Memphis srl, Milan.

September 19, 1981: The Memphis brand unveil their debut collection of 55 products at Milan’s Salone del Mobile under the artistic direction of Barbara Radice. More than two thousand people flood into the Arc ‘74 showroom, owned by Brunella and Mario Godani, to bear witness to a once-in-a-lifetime event and the start of a true revolution.

Aldo Cibic, Matteo Thun, Marco Zanini, Martine Bedin and Nathalie Du Pasquier are just a few of the great names who would offer their creativity to the movement until its dissolution in 1988. But that’s not really the end, because the libertarian spirit of Memphis is still inspiring the public and new generations of designers all over the world.

Ettore
Sottsass

Architect, four-time Compasso D'oro winner. His brightly colored works offer a veiled irony and a criticism of society and the tastes of the time.

Michele
De Lucchi

The movement’s co-founder remains one of the biggest names in industrial design andhas created everyday furnishings and objects for the most important Italian and European companies.

Martine Bedin.
Photo © Jeannette Montgomery Barron
Courtesy Martine Bedin Archive.

Martine
Bedin

From the École d’architecture in Paris to the Milanese avant-garde, her ability to mix materials like wood, marble, metal and ceramics has made history, as have her unmistakable artworks.