Memphis: Plastic Field
Constance Rubini, Jean Blanchaert
MADD Bordeaux & Éditions Norma, 2019
During the 1980s, the Memphis group, founded by Ettore Sottsass, revolutionised the European design scene, radically reinventing the language of form and colour and challenging the status quo of functionalist design. Memphis was preceded in 1976 by the Milan-based avant-garde collective, Studio Alchimia. Sottsass, who designed for Studio Alchimia, left to form Memphis in 1981 and would ultimately attract leading designers such as Andrea Branzi, Michael Graves, Shiro Kuramata, Alessandro Mendini, Marco Zanuso and Nathalie Du Pasquier to the movement. They rejected the austerity of mid-century modernists like Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier and approached the object with an unfettered, often irreverent, visual vocabulary and an exuberant sense of play applied to shape, material, and pattern.
This book, the catalogue for a show at MADD-Bordeaux, looks at the genesis of the Memphis collective and the furniture, household objects, glassware, lighting, ceramics, and textiles they designed. It reproduces nearly all the pieces they produced between 1981 and 1988, around 400 works, and includes first-hand accounts by some of its founding members.