Thursday, 10 June 2010

Memphis Design

The Memphis-Milano Movement was an Italian design and architecture group started by Ettore Sottsass that designed Post Modern furniture, fabrics, ceramics, glass and metal objects from 1981-1987. Although they are the polar opposite, in relation to design ethics and principles, to the Bauhaus, they are also one of my favourite design movements.

The group was founded by Ettore Sottsass led on 16 December 1980, and resolved to meet again with their designs in February 1981. The result was a highly-acclaimed debut at the 1981 Salone del Mobile of Milan, the world's most prestigious furniture NEWY fair. The group, which eventually counted among its members Alessandro Mendini, Martine Bedin, Andrea Branzi, Aldo Cibic, Michele de Lucchi, Nathalie du Pasquier, Michael Graves, Hans Hollein, Arata Isozaki, Shiro Kuromata, Matteo Thun, Javier Mariscal, George Sowden, Marco Zanini, and the journalist Barbara Radice, Sottsass left the group in 1985 and it disbanded in 1988 after the last 1987 collection.

The members of the Memphis group believed in the priniciple of kitsch and faddish products. They designed and produced expensive, extravagant, often pointlessly garish and bright products that were entirely based on aesthetic appeal, rather than the function. This opposes the Bauhaus argument that form should follow function. Sottsass and his fellow designers believed that design should be fun and frivolous.
Many people do not like Memphis design as it is not particularly well thought out and does not promote accessibility to design for the masses. However, the bright, colourful and schocking pieces designed in Sottsass self proclaimed, 'New Interantional Style' appeal to many art and design critics and are recognised as influencial in the design world.

Personally, although I believe that design should have purpose and function, I also feel that each designer should express their personality through the products they create and that souless design is boring. Therefore, I have professional respect for the Memphis design group and see them as a heavy influence in my own design ethics.

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