However, last summer, a friend alerted me to a video that had appeared on YouTube. Created as part of an article in Vox magazine, this video explains the significance of the Memphis Group -- an Italian collective specialising in postmodern furniture, fabrics, objects and architecture.
After reading the article it became clear that the Memphis had played a crucial role in the evolution of this 'look', defining many of the key characteristics that we associate with it.
The group's founder, Ettore Sottsass, had been responsible for a couple of designs that -- at first glance -- appear to have jumped straight from the Eighties.
|Ollivetti Valentine portable typewriter (1969) by Ettore Sottsass|
|Bacterio (1978) by Ettore Sottsass|
The use of reds, yellows, white & black and triangles & circles follows a path traceable from the work of Russian avant-garde artist El Lissitzky (a role model for the Bauhaus movement).
|Tahiti lamp (1981) by Ettore Sottsass|
The group emphasised primitive geometric shapes, derived from Art Deco influences. This can be seen prominently in the work of Californian designer Peter Shire, whose Bel Air chair design became a signature object for the collective.
|Bel Air chair (1982) by Peter Shire|
|Lido sofa (1882) by Michele de Lucchi|
"a shotgun wedding between Bauhaus and Fisher-Price"Prior to watching the Vox video, I had been unaware of the Memphis Group or its impact, especially in 1980s graphic design. This major omission has now been corrected.
If you haven't seen the video then I strongly recommend watching it.