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Postmodern Design

Postmodern Design (UNITED STATES AND ITALY)
Postmodern Design (UNITED STATES AND ITALY)

Strictly speaking, postmodern design was a short-lived movement that manifested itself chiefly in Italy and the United States in the early 1980s. Objects produced by postmodern practitioners were characterized by hot-colored, loud-patterned, usually plastic surfaces; strange proportions and weird angles; and a vague-at-best relationship between form and function. Critics derided postmodern design as a grandstanding bid for attention and nothing of consequence. The fact that, decades later, postmodern design still has the power to provoke thoughts (along with other reactions) proves they were not entirely correct.


Postmodernism began as an architectural critique. Starting in the 1960s, a small cadre of mainly American architects began to argue that modernism, once high-minded and even noble in its goals, had become stale, stagnant and blandly corporate. In the next decade in Milan, a cohort of designers led by Ettore Sottsass and Alessandro Mendini brought the discussion to bear on design. Sottsass and Michele de Lucchi, in 1980, gathered a core group of young designers, which would come to include Michael Graves, Marco Zanini, Shiro Kuramata and Matteo Thun, into a design collective they called Memphis. They saw design as a means of communication and they wanted it to shout. That it did: the first Memphis collection appeared in 1981 and broke all the modernist taboos, embracing irony, kitsch, wild ornamentation and bad taste.


Memphis works remain icons of postmodernism: the Sottsass Casablanca bookcase, with its leopard-print plastic veneer; de Lucchi’s First chair, which has been described as having the look of an electronics component; Martine Bedin’s Super lamp: a pull-toy puppy on a power cord leash. After the initial Memphis show caused an uproar, postmodern design quickly took off in America. The architect Robert Venturi had already begun a series of plywood chairs for Knoll Inc. with beefy, exaggerated silhouettes of traditional styles such as Queen Anne and Chippendale. In 1982, the new firm Swid Powell enlisted a group of top American architects, including Frank Gehry, Richard Meier, Stanley Tigerman and Venturi to create postmodern tableware in silver, ceramic and glass.

 

Many of the pieces mentioned above formed the core of a 2011 survey of postmodern design at the Victoria & Albert Museum — an exhibition that showed the movement's influence on contemporary design and fashion. That fact, coupled with the works offered on these pages, proves that postmodernism is a movement that continues to inspire.

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Yantra Y33b vase by Ettore Sottsass Poltronova
By Ettore Sottsass
Located in Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Yantra Y33b by Ettore Sottsass. Original Poltronova edition released in the 1960s-1970s.
Category

1960s Italian Modern Vintage Postmodern Design

Materials

Ceramic

Alessandro Mendini Ceramic Vase Model B ABC Collection Superego Editions, Italy
By Superego Editions, Alessandro Mendini
Located in Milan, Italy
Ceramic vase model B, ABC collection, designed by Alessandro Mendini and produced by Superego Editions. 99 pieces limited edition. Signed and numbered. Biography Alessandro Mendini ...
Category

Early 2000s Italian Modern Postmodern Design

Materials

Ceramic

Lapo Binazzi, Rare MGM Lamp Prototype, Pink Lacquered Metal, 1969
By UFO Group
Located in Milan, IT
Soft Pink Lacquered Metal Prototype realized in 1969, prior to series put into production during the 1970s for Gruppo UFO and Studio Alchimia. Hence making it a rare early prototype....
Category

1960s Italian Post-Modern Vintage Postmodern Design

Materials

Sheet Metal

Ettore Sottsass for Memphis "Tahiti" Lamp
By Ettore Sottsass, Memphis Group
Located in Palm Springs, CA
An iconic "Tahiti" lamp by Ettore Sottsass for Memphis. Capturing the spirit of the Memphis movement, the lamp is composed of metal, wood and laminate in the abstract form ...
Category

20th Century Italian Postmodern Design

Materials

Metal

"Pratone" Lounge Chair for Gufram, Italy 1971.
By GUFRAM Furniture
Located in New York, NY
"Pratone" lounge chair, designed by Pietro Derossi, Giorgio Ceretti and Riccardo Rosso, 1966, produced starting in 1971 by Gufram, still in production. This example produced by Gufra...
Category

1970s Italian Vintage Postmodern Design

Materials

PVC

Ashoka Large Table Lamp by Ettore Sottsass for Memphis Milano
By Memphis Group, Ettore Sottsass
Located in Kansas City, MO
Ashoka lamp by Ettore Sottsass for Memphis, Milano, 1981. Excellent condition.
Category

1980s Italian Post-Modern Vintage Postmodern Design

Materials

Steel

Orange Eero Aarnio 'Kantarelli' Fiberglass Side Table for Asko Oy, Finland, 1967
By Eero Aarnio, Asko
Located in Graz, AT
An orange high gloss fiberglass 'Kantarelli' side table with tulip base designed by Finish designer Eero Aarnio in 1967 for modern furniture maker Asko Oy in Helsinki, Finland. This ...
Category

1960s Finnish Mid-Century Modern Vintage Postmodern Design

Materials

Fiberglass

Alessandro Mendini - "Dipylon" Rand Totem Sculpture
By Alessandro Mendini
Located in Collonge Bellerive, Geneve, CH
Alessandro MENDINI Rand Totem "Dipylon" Signé "A. Mendini" Edition of 10 Signed on the base Earthenware totem composed by four ovoid elements, red, black and gold enamels. ...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Postmodern Design

Materials

Ceramic

La Femme Commode by Nicola L. In stock
By Nicola L.
Located in Paris, FR
THE CHEST WOMAN. Cat-Berro Edition 2008 Chest of drawers on wheels. Lacquered wood. Drawers. Measures: H 170cm., L 64cm., P 38cm. First created in 1969. Last piece.  Pricing does...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary French Postmodern Design

Materials

Wood

Ziggurat Container by Oeuffice
By Oeuffice
Located in London, United Kingdom
Oeuffice explores the world of Middle Eastern architecture and ornamental structures. Collaborating with a Lebanese craftsman specialized in wood inlay, Oeuffice has created a system...
Category

2010s Lebanese Arts and Crafts Postmodern Design

Materials

Acrylic, Wood

Porfido Coffee Table by Piero Gilardi for Gufram, 1974, Italy
By Piero Gilardi, Memphis Group, GUFRAM Furniture
Located in Vienna, AT
Rare limited edition table by Piero Gilardi from 1974. Ressembling an ancient engraved piece of stone, it is fully comprised from polyurethane foam and in excellent condition. This i...
Category

1970s Italian Post-Modern Vintage Postmodern Design

Materials

Polyurethane

"PIP-e" Stackable Outdoor Chair Designed by Philippe Starck for Driade
By Philippe Starck, Driade
Located in New York, NY
"PIP-e" is a stackable chair, designed by Philippe Starck and manufactured by Driade, in polypropylene monobloc available in carnation, lavender gray, white or dark gray colors. Indo...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Italian Postmodern Design

Materials

Plastic

Angelo Mangiarotti for Skipper, Modern Set of Six Black Chicago Chairs, 1983
By Skipper, Angelo Mangiarotti
Located in Milan, IT
A set of six Chicago chairs by Angelo Mangiarotti produced in 1983 by Skipper, Milan. The chairs are molded in a single piece of fiberglass and are a marvel of production technology...
Category

1980s Italian Modern Vintage Postmodern Design

Materials

Fiberglass

Michael McCarthy for Cassina Italian Marble Cocktail Table
By Cassina, Michael McCarthy
Located in Chicago, IL
White marble cocktail or coffee table by Cassina with black metal tubular base. Designed by Michael McCarthy for Cassina, 1960s.
Category

1960s Italian Vintage Postmodern Design

Materials

Marble, Metal

Archizoom Associati Sanremo Floor Lamp by Poltronova
By Poltronova, Archizoom Associati
Located in Brooklyn, NY
Sanremo floor lamp (1968). Archizoom (Italy) / Poltronova. Painted sheet steel base and stem with laser-cut methacrylate pendants, halogen (50 watt) / Dimensions: W 38 x H 225 x D...
Category

1960s Italian Post-Modern Vintage Postmodern Design

Materials

Metal

"Soft Egg" Stackable Monobloc Armchair Designed by Philippe Starck for Driade
By Driade, Philippe Starck
Located in New York, NY
"Soft Egg" is a polypropylene monobloc armchair, designed by Philippe Starck and manufactured by Driade, available in white, carnation, dark gray or gray colors. White and gray versi...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Italian Modern Postmodern Design

Materials

Polymer

"Giova" Table Lamp + Flower Pot Designed by Gae Aulenti for FontanaArte
By Fontana Arte, Gae Aulenti
Located in New York, NY
"Giova" is a refined table lamp and flower pot hybrid piece of design, designed by Gae Aulenti and manufactured by FontanaArte, featuring a chromed metal base, a middle globe in tran...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Italian Modern Postmodern Design

Materials

Gold, Chrome, Metal

Laverne Lucite "Lily" Chair
By Erwine & Estelle Laverne
Located in Hudson, NY
Manufactured by Laverne International, USA. From the "Invisible Group" series. Original fuzzy red cushion.
Category

1960s American Vintage Postmodern Design

Materials

Lucite

Floor Lamp "Svincolo" by Ettore Sottsass, Studio Alchimia Milano, 1979
By Ettore Sottsass, Memphis Group, Alchemia
Located in Berlin, DE
Floor Lamp "Svincolo" by Ettore Sottsass, Studio Alchimia Milano 1979 laminated wood, chromed metal, neon-light
Category

1970s Italian Memphis Group Vintage Postmodern Design

Materials

Chrome

Memphis Style Side Table, circa 1980s
By Peter Shire, Memphis Group
Located in Palm Springs, CA
A fun and whimsical Memphis style side table in the manner of Peter Shire. This table consist of painted steel with a 23.5" round 1/2" thick glass top, circa 1980s.
Category

1980s Unknown Modern Vintage Postmodern Design

Materials

Steel

Paul Talman "Fifty Fifty" Wall Lamp
By Paul Talman
Located in Brooklyn, NY
Paul Talman wall lamp. Model "Fifty Fifty". Aluminum base and plastic spheres. Spheres can be rotated creating different patterns. Two lamps available. Switzerland, 1960s.  
Category

1960s Swiss Mid-Century Modern Vintage Postmodern Design

Materials

Aluminum

Rocking Chair Produced by Fasem in Italy
By Mart Stam
Located in Malmo, SE
Rare rocking chair produced by Fasem in Italy.
Category

1960s Italian Mid-Century Modern Vintage Postmodern Design

Materials

Chrome

Fiberglass and Leather ‘Diabolo’ Chair by Ben Swildens, 1960s
Located in Rotterdam, NL
Rare ‘Diabolo’ chair by Ben Swildens (Netherlands 1936). Made by Stabin - N.V. Woerden in the, 1960s, marked with 'sb precisie meubelen' Woerden. Swildens is very well known because ...
Category

1960s Dutch Mid-Century Modern Vintage Postmodern Design

Materials

Leather, Fiberglass

Michael Graves Mailbox for Alessi
By Michael Graves (b.1934)
Located in Milan, IT
Architect Michael Graves mailbox.
Category

Late 20th Century Italian Post-Modern Postmodern Design

Materials

Steel, Aluminum

Mirror Designed and Signed by Ettore Sottsass, 2007 Made in Italy
By Ettore Sottsass
Located in Jersey City, NJ
Dioniso four mirror of early production designed by Ettore Sottsass for Glas Italia in 2007 comprises orange, white, and black colored glass in geometric shapes that surround the cen...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Italian Modern Postmodern Design

Materials

Mirror

Peter Shire Elyssian Heights Floor Lamp
By Peter Shire
Located in Kansas City, MO
This Peter Shire Elyssian Heights floor lamp is a unique, one of a kind made in 1988. The light source is in the center of the fan shaped shade and provides even illumination withou...
Category

Late 20th Century American Memphis Group Postmodern Design

Materials

Metal

Michele De Lucchi for Cleto Munari Silver Carafe
By Michele de Lucchi, Cleto Munari
Located in New York, NY
Designed for Cleto Munari, manufactured by Rossi e Arcandi. Stamped “M De Lucchi/Cleto Munari/Rossi & Arcand/Made In Italy”, numbered “40/99”, “925” silver mark. Literature: ...
Category

1970s Italian Vintage Postmodern Design

Materials

Sterling Silver

Table "Brazil" by Peter Shire, Memphis Milano, 1981
By Memphis Group, Peter Shire
Located in Berlin, DE
Table "Brazil" by Peter Shire, Memphis Milano 1981
Category

Late 20th Century Italian Postmodern Design

Materials

Wood

Baykal Ceramic Flower Vase by Marco Zanini
By Marco Zannini
Located in Brooklyn, NY
Baykal ceramic flower vase by Marco Zanini (Italy). Rare. Zanini had the notion (correctly, in actuality) that most artistic flower vases almost never get used in reality. Thus, h...
Category

1980s Italian Memphis Group Vintage Postmodern Design

Materials

Ceramic

Robert Venturi "Cabriole Leg" Table for Knoll
By Robert Venturi
Located in Miami Beach, FL
Cabriole leg dining or center table in "Grandmother's Tablecloth" printed laminate with black laminate top by Robert Venturi for Knoll. Model #65848.
Category

1980s American Vintage Postmodern Design

Materials

Laminate

Volga Porcelain Flower Vase by Matteo Thun for Memphis
By Matteo Thun
Located in Brooklyn, NY
Volga porcelain flower vase by Matteo Thun (Italy/Austria) for Memphis srl (1983). Created for the 3rd Memphis exhibition in 1983, Thun was amongst a group of the movements design...
Category

1980s Italian Memphis Group Vintage Postmodern Design

Materials

Porcelain

Victoria Ceramic Flower Vase by Marco Zannini
By Marco Zannini
Located in Brooklyn, NY
Victoria ceramic flower vase by Marco Zannini (Italy.) Rare. Zanini had the notion (correctly, in actuality) that most artistic flower vases almost never get used in reality. Thus, ...
Category

1980s Italian Memphis Group Vintage Postmodern Design

Materials

Ceramic

Tanganyika Ceramic Flower Vase by Marco Zannini
By Marco Zannini
Located in Brooklyn, NY
Tanganyika ceramic flower vase by Marco Zannini (Italy). Very rare, perhaps only 10-12 were ever made. Zannini had the notion (correctly, in actuality) that most artistic flower va...
Category

1980s Italian Memphis Group Vintage Postmodern Design

Materials

Ceramic

Alessandro Mendini Multi Color Leather Lounge Chair
By Alessandro Mendini
Located in Weesp, NL
San Leonardo limited edition 14/100 by Alessandro Mendini Rare and stunning leather lounge chair and hocker designed by Alessandro Mendini for Matteo Grassi, Italy, 1986. Both the le...
Category

1980s Italian Post-Modern Vintage Postmodern Design

Materials

Leather

Silver Plated Verseuse/Tea Pot by Richard Meier for Christofle
By Richard Meier
Located in Long Island City, NY
Rare silver plated verseuse/tea pot by Richard Meier for Christofle. Collection "Perspective." Signed.
Category

20th Century French Postmodern Design

Materials

Silver

"Juliette " Vase, 1994 by Ettore Sottsass for Sèvres
By Ettore Sottsass
Located in Paris, FR
Juliette vase, 1994 by Ettore Sottsass (1917-2007) for Sèvres manufacture. White porcelain biscuit and red enameled porcelain. Signed, stamped by Sèvres, numbered 04. Rare piece f...
Category

Late 20th Century French Postmodern Design

Materials

Porcelain

Post-Modern Table Lamp by Coy Howard
By Coy Howard
Located in Bridgewater, CT
American post-modern bronze and parchment table lamp by California-school architect Coy Howard, 1984. Height: 19½in., Width: 20in., Depth: 8¾in.
Category

1980s American American Craftsman Vintage Postmodern Design

Materials

Bronze

Matteo Thun for Cleto Munari Silver Pitcher
By Matteo Thun
Located in New York, NY
Designed for Cleto Munari, manufactured by Rossi & Arcandi. Stamped with maker’s mark, “925” silver mark and “Matteo Thun per Cleto Munari”; numbered “30/99” inside the lid. Li...
Category

1990s Italian Postmodern Design

Materials

Sterling Silver

Vintage Porcelain Vase by Michael Graves for Alessi
By Alessi, Michael Graves (b.1934)
Located in New York, NY
A trumpet mouth, fluted rectangular vase by influential architect and designer Michael Graves. The piece mimics elements of classical Greek architecture; a fluted column sitting on t...
Category

20th Century Italian Postmodern Design

Materials

Porcelain

Roma Chair by Marco Zanini for Memphis, 1986
By Memphis Group, Marco Zannini
Located in Denton, MD
From the 1986 Memphis/Milano collection, this chair represents one of Marco Zanini's most important designs for Memphis. This example has a deep green metal flake finish on the fiber...
Category

1980s Italian Post-Modern Vintage Postmodern Design

Materials

Fiberglass

Resin Top Console by Marie-Claude Fouquieres
Located in Montreal, QC
Important emerald green fractal resin top rectangular console top resting on chromium plated square plinths. Attributed to Marie-Claude Fouquieres.
Category

1970s French Vintage Postmodern Design

Matteo Thun Memphis Tea Pot
By Matteo Thun
Located in New York, NY
Tea Pot “Columbina Superba” Designed for Alessio Sarri, Sesto Fiorentino Printed to underside “MTH 020”. Literature: Barbara Radice, Memphis, Munich, 1988, p. 165 (for anoth...
Category

20th Century Italian Postmodern Design

Materials

Ceramic

Signed David Marshall Postmodernist Mirror
By David Marshall
Located in Chicago, IL
Postmodern, or Art Deco, form mirror, with geometric inserts of patinated bronze, and smoked mirror panels flanking the main mirror.
Category

20th Century Spanish Mid-Century Modern Postmodern Design

Materials

Bronze