Memphis Again

Time has not diminished the intensity of the irreverent, subversive concept behind the Memphis movement. On view at the Triennale di Milano until 12 June, not as a historical tribute but as a way of focusing on the expressive and cultural possibilities of design that goes beyond marketing

Memphis Again @ Triennale di Milano. Photo © Delfino Sisto Legnani and Alessandro Saletta - DSL Studio
Memphis Again @ Triennale di Milano. Photo © Delfino Sisto Legnani and Alessandro Saletta - DSL Studio

To make a clean break with conventions. To dismantle preconceived notions with stylemes never seen before. To get away from the cage of the market, exploring new languages of design. This is the incisive statement of the Memphis movement, which began in the 1980s and became an undeniable watershed between before and after, under the guidance of Ettore Sottsass.

New forms, materials and patterns envisioned (and produced) according to a revolutionary logic, free of restrictions, as the fulcrum of a vital laboratory of ideas directed by Barbara Radice, together with Sottsass and other names that have made design history (Aldo Cibic, Matteo Thun, Marco Zanini, Martine Bedin, Michele De Lucchi, Natalie Du Pasquier and George Sowden, et al).

The daring approach that redesigned habitat habits is still vivid in its colors and contents. It continues to influence the imagination of the public, from fashion to cinema to television.

The demonstration is the exhibition Memphis Again at the Triennale di Milano, curated by Christoph Radl – who was the official graphic designer of Memphis – and on view until 12 June. Not a tribute to a manifesto, but a way of putting the spotlight back on a possible alternative to design that solves functional industrial problems, underlining the importance of the emotional aspects of objects.

The space of the Curva at the Triennale, a gallery over 100 meters long, presents over 200 items, including furniture and objects of the Memphis collection, made from 1981 to 1986, presented in chronological order in a nightclub atmosphere suggested by the installation and the soundtrack by Seth Troxler.

The show also features projections on the walls with comments from the protagonists and critics, architects and designers, with special guests like Arquitectonica, Michael Graves, Hans Hollein, Arata Isozaki, Javier Mariscal.

So long live Memphis, which this year becomes part of Italian Radical Design: the new group founded by the entrepreneurs Sandra and Charley Vezza, owners of Gufram since 2012, has the aim of conserving and enhancing Italian design trademarks marked by a distinctive non-conformist approach.

All photos © Delfino Sisto Legnani and Alessandro Saletta – DSL Studio