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The Memphis Group - Ettore Sottsass ‘Carlton’ bookcase, 1980
The Memphis group comprised of Italian designers and architects who created a series of highly influential products in the 1980’s. They disagreed with the conformist approach at the time and challenged the idea that products had to follow conventional shapes, colours, textures and patterns. The Memphis group was founded in 1981. One of the leading members of the group Ettore Sottsass called Memphis design the ‘New International Style’. Memphis was a reaction against the slick, black humorless design of the 1970’s. It was a time of minimalism with such products as typewriters, buildings, cameras, cars and furniture all seeming to lack personality and individualism. In contrast the Memphis Group offered bright, colourful, shocking pieces. The colours they used contrasted the dark blacks and browns of European furniture. It may look dated today but at the time it looked remarkable. The word tasteful is not normally associated with products generated by the Memphis Group but they were certainly ground breaking at the time.