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15:28 PM / 26th September 2023

Memphis Design Group – Research and Theory – Studio Index

Rigby & Rigby’s Senior Designer, Rupert Bold, has been researching the well known, Memphis Design Group, also known as Memphis Milano. Memphis was a short-lived revolutionary style that ran from late 1980 to 1987 and is considered one of the founders of Postmodern design.

, Memphis Design Group – Research and Theory – Studio Index

Background and Design

Founded by Ettore Sottsass and a group of Designers & Architects, the objective was to steer design & architecture away from the current trend of modernism that had been made prevalent by other design movements.

Although only a short-lived design and architectural movement it had a large impact on style and pop culture that continued into the early 90’s and can still be seen being referenced back to today considered ‘bizarre’ by many in its time, it rebelled against modernism and its motto of “form follows function” instead it was a colourful, playful way of looking at spaces with a childish streak to it. It also used materials and colours considered garish by some. Bright plastic laminates and terrazzo stones were mixed in an array of shapes in an almost erratic way to create furniture that was also art.

, Memphis Design Group – Research and Theory – Studio Index

Modern interiors influenced by the Memphis Design Group

A mixture of patterns, texture, form and often colour creates kitsch, playful spaces. The phrase, “less is more”, is challenged and replaced with, “more is more”.

, Memphis Design Group – Research and Theory – Studio Index


Later the design and patterns would go on to become a symbol of youth pop culture and the patterns and forms would influence clothing design, in particular in up and coming ‘extreme’ sports styles such as skateboarding, bmx, surfing and skiing.

In more recent times Missoni and Christian Dior have showcased collections heavily inspired by the Memphis Group and the legendary late designer Karl Lagerfeld was also known to be a collector, decking out his entire Monte Carlo apartment in Memphis Group Furniture.

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