Print Friendly and PDF

Trending decor styles... Memphis

When researching for decor trends one name keeps popping up again and again... Memphis. But what is Memphis style and where does it originate?


Christiane Lemieux is one of the Judges on Ellen's Design Challenge that aired recently on Mnet. As Executive Creative Director for Wayfair, a US furniture outlet, and founder of Dwell, Christiane definitely has her finger on the pulse of decor trends. She recently commented on the return of Memphis as a decor trend, and not knowing what Memphis was or is, I decided to do a bit of searching.

During the 1980s, Memphis Milano designed furniture and accessories in vibrant colours and bold geometric patterns. Abstract art, unusual designs and clashing colours were the norm for Memphis style. While it may have been popular during the 80s, I am sure there are going to be those that either love or hate this style.

It is said that fashion designer, Karl Lagerfeld, furnished his Monte Carlo apartment with Memphis pieces. The US architect, Michael Graves, joined the collective, as did Javier Mariscal from Spain, Arata Isozaki and Shiro Kurumata from Japan. 





Memphis Group experimented with various unconventional and unusual materials to design furniture that was anything but ordinary, and can even be said to verge on kitsch. Pieces were painted in gaudy colours and embellished with geometric patterns reminiscent of 1950s design and pop culture. Memphis was also a colourful, clearly defined manifestation of the often obscure post-modernist theories then so influential in art and architecture.

The work regularly incorporated asymmetrical shapes and colourful decoration drawing inspiration from styles such as Art Deco and Pop Art, including futuristic themes

Memphis Group's design philosophy was not intended to be timeless and enduring, but to lean more towards being eclectic and 'out there'. In today's disposable environment these pieces are to make a statement, start a conversation, or simply to be enjoyed for the moment.

The colourful pieces have been described as bizarre, misunderstood, and a wedding between Bauhaus and children's toy manufacturer, Fisher-Price. More recently Memphis designs served as inspiration for the Winter 2015 Missoni collection.