The MK Gallery exhibits work by the influential and divisive Memphis group

Memphis: Plastic Field is on view at MK Gallery in the UK until April 25, 2021 and shows more than 150 objects by the collective founded in 1980 by Italian designer Ettore Sottsass. This includes work by Nathalie Du Pasquier, George Sowden and Michael Graves. Among others, Marco Zanini and Shiro Kuramata.

The Memphis Group showed their first designs in 1981 and raised eyebrows for the use of materials not normally associated with "high-end" furniture such as laminate and terrazzo. Memphis furniture looks almost cartoonish, with exaggerated shapes and splashes of no-frills patterns and colors – in response to a quieter mid-century design.

Installation views in the MK Gallery

In an interview with Metropolis, Nathalie Du Pasquier claimed the movement was "completely misunderstood in the sense that it was mistaken for a joke – that serious thinking was part of modernity and that what we were doing was a reaction to it this We weren't serious … but all of this was very serious to us. "

Despite the collective's ambitions, Memphis design had limited success at the time – apart from a few high profile fans like David Bowie and Karl Lagerfeld, who bought the entire collection and sold it in 1991. Interest has picked up again, however, and many Memphis designs have fetched high auction prices in recent years.

Karl Lagerfeld's Monte Carlo apartment by Jaques Schumacher, copyright Mode & WohneBurundi by Nathalie Du Pasquier, 1981. Photo: Aldo Ballo, Guido Cegani, Peter Ogilvie

Photographer Dennis Zanone, who once claimed to have the largest collection of Memphis design in the United States, told Art News that the objects might look childish to some, but are surprisingly practical and could encourage people to “our nations and rethink concepts of what design is – not whether it is good or bad ”. He described the experience of living in the midst of Memphis objects as "fun and sometimes a bit hectic".

Visitors to Memphis: Plastic Field can experience a short-lived version of it at the show and evaluate some iconic examples such as the Carlton bookcase by Sottsass and the Tahiti lamp, textile designs by Du Pasquier and the D & # 39; Antibes cabinet by George Sowden.

Memphis: Plastic Field is at MK Gallery through April 25, 2021; mkgallery.org


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