The Memphis Design

January 14, 2021

Just like the appearance of the design, Memphis design also has a colorful history. The style emerged from the celebrated Memphis Design collective of Milan-based designers in the early 1980s. With combined ideas and creativity, the design style was born to add colors to the world. The style is not for the faint of heart as it is packed with bold colors, patterns, and a radical approach to design. 

A brief history of Memphis Design

The movement was spearheaded by Italian designer, Ettore Sottsass in 1980. He assembled a team of bold and daring designers from around the globe to transform the design industry. As a result of this gathering, they introduced their controversial, eye-catching, rule-breaking style that became famous around the world. The name “Memphis Design” was inspired by the Bob Dylan song, Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again, from his 1966 Blonde on Blonde album that has been playing during the night the group of designers had their first official meeting. 

The style is incorporated with pop culture and historical references. Memphis Design was the answer to the clean and linear aesthetic of midcentury modern and the minimalism of the 70s. In addition to these, it is interesting to know that Memphis Design was influenced by Art Deco and Pop Art. The design style also influenced popular culture, inspiring the set of several television shows like Pee-wee’s Playhouse and Saved By the Bell. Several celebrities also are fans of the design style. 

Characteristics of Memphis Design

  • Designed to initiate an emotional response.
  • Loud, brash, spirited, playful, uninhibited.
  • The use of bright colors is exaggerated in unique and interesting combinations.
  • Use of bold and clashing patterns
  • The use of geometric shapes.
  • The popularity of squiggles.
  • Use of materials such as terrazzo and plastic laminated in various finishes. 
  • Out of ordinary style that may clash different styles. 
  • Rounded edges and curves.