HomeCollectionsPostmodern Design

Postmodern Design

Postmodern Design <p><font size="4">International (ca. 1960s - 2000)</font></p>

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, thirty years 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 it’s 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.

Ettore Sottsass Olivetti Valentine Typewriter, Italy, 1969
Ettore Sottsass Olivetti Valentine Typewriter, ...
Olivetti, Ettore Sottsass
Vintage 1960s Italian Mid-Century Modern More Desk Accessories
Metal
Early edition of the famous 'Valentine' typewriter designed by Ettore Sottsass Jr. and manufactured by Olivetti, Italy, 1969. This first edition was produced in Barcelona, the second...
Alessandro Mendini and Alessandro Guerriero Table and Chairs
Alessandro Mendini and Alessandro Guerriero Tab...
Alessandro Mendini, Memphis Group
Late 20th Century Italian Dining Room Sets
Wood
Very rare table and chairs from the Ollo collection. Consorzio Esposizione Mobili for Studio Alchimia. Italy, 1988 This set features Mendini's Olimpico pattern. Also see our scre...
Colorful Sculpture by Alessandro Mendini
Colorful Sculpture by Alessandro Mendini
Superego Design
2010s Italian Other Abstract Sculptures
Ceramic
This decorative sculpture is made entirely in ceramic and is designed by Alessandro Mendini as part of a limited series of 50 pieces all numbered and signed. Either alone, or combine...
Yantra Y33b vase by Ettore Sottsass Poltronova
Yantra Y33b vase by Ettore Sottsass Poltronova
Ettore Sottsass
Vintage 1960s Italian Modern Vases
Ceramic
Yantra Y33b by Ettore Sottsass. Original Poltronova edition released in the 1960s-1970s.
1967, Paolo Lomazzi, Donato D'urbino, Jonathan de Pas, for Zanotta, Blow Chair
1967, Paolo Lomazzi, Donato D'urbino, Jonathan ...
Zanotta, Gionathan de Pas & Donato D’Urbino & Paolo Lomazzi
Vintage 1960s Italian Mid-Century Modern Lounge Chairs
Plastic
Blow chair. Traces of wear like not being totally clear plastic. This was the first mass-produced inflatable chair. Designed by the Milan-based studio of De Pas, D'Urbino, and Lom...
Alessandro Mendini, Model B, "ABC" Collection, Superego Editions, Italy
Alessandro Mendini, Model B, "ABC" Collection, ...
Alessandro Mendini, Superego Editions
Early 2000s Italian Modern Ceramics
Ceramic
&quot;B&quot; ceramic vase designed by Alessandro Mendini and produced by Superego Editions, 99 pieces limited edition. Signed and numbered  
Ettore Sottsass, Table Lamp Model "Tahiti", Milano, 1981
Ettore Sottsass, Table Lamp Model "Tahiti", Mil...
Ettore Sottsass, Memphis Group
Late 20th Century Italian Post-Modern Table Lamps
Metal
Ettore Sottsass (1917–2007) Table lamp model tahiti Manufactured by Memphis Milano, 1981 Polychrome enameled metal Measurements 38 cm x 10 cm x 60h cm. 14.96 in x 3.93 in ...
Alessandro Mendini, Bookcase "Helianthus", Design Gallery, Italy
Alessandro Mendini, Bookcase "Helianthus", Desi...
Alessandro Mendini, Design Gallery Milano
1990s Italian Modern Bookcases
Laminate
A large 'Helianthus' bookcase, of the Museum Market collection, 1992, arch laminate structure, front decorated with a blue glass mosaic, four laminate shelves at the centre. Original...
Tawayara 'Boxing Ring' Seating Unit by Masanori Umeda
Tawayara 'Boxing Ring' Seating Unit by Masanori...
Masanori Umeda
20th Century Italian Post-Modern Sofas
Metal
Tawayara boxing ring seating unit by Masanori Umeda (Japan) for Memphis srl (1981). The Tawaraya boxing ring bed/seating area was the brainchild of Masanori Umeda -- a testament to ...
Vitra Miniature Lassu Chair by Alessandro Mendini, Germany, 1990
Vitra Miniature Lassu Chair by Alessandro Mendi...
Alessandro Mendini, Vitra
Late 20th Century German Mid-Century Modern Models and Miniatures
Bronze
A unique miniature of the Lassu' chair by Alessandro Mendini, manufactured by Vitra in Germany around 1990. This very rare piece is a limited edition: only 250 were made for Vitra...
Lapo Binazzi, Rare MGM Lamp Prototype, Pink Lacquered Metal, 1969
Lapo Binazzi, Rare MGM Lamp Prototype, Pink Lac...
UFO Group, Lapo Binazzi
Vintage 1960s Italian Post-Modern Table Lamps
Sheet 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. On the base of the lamp ...
Shiva Vase by Ettore Sottsass
Shiva Vase by Ettore Sottsass
Ettore Sottsass
20th Century Spanish Vases
Clay
A vase &quot;Shiva&quot; for Ediciones de diseno, Barcelona, 1973. Glazed clay, molded casting. Marked &quot;b.D barcelona design&quot;.  
Ettore Sottsass for Memphis "Tahiti" Lamp
Ettore Sottsass, Memphis Group
20th Century Italian Table Lamps
Metal
An iconic &quot;Tahiti&quot; 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 ...
Malabar Sideboard Designed by Ettore Sottsass f...
Ettore Sottsass
Late 20th Century Italian Sideboards
Metal
The piece consists of six shelves with a one-door cupboard decorated in plastic laminate with a geometric pattern. Its form is made up of both straight and curved lines punctuated by...

"Pratone" Lounge Chair for Gufram, Italy 1971.

By Gufram, Ceretti, Derossi, Rosso
"Pratone" Lounge Chair for Gufram, Italy 1971.
Gufram, Ceretti, Derossi, Rosso
Vintage 1970s Italian Lounge Chairs
PVC
"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...
Alessandro Mendini "Three" Sculpture, Prototype...
Alessandro Mendini, Superego Editions
2010s Italian Modern Figurative Sculptures
Ceramic
Bronze color 'Three' ceramic sculpture designed by Alessandro Mendini and produced by Superego Editions. Signed and numbered. Prototype. Limited edition of eight pieces. Arts &amp; C...

Cactus by Guido Drocco and Franco Mello for Gufram

By Gufram, Ceretti, Derossi, Rosso
Cactus by Guido Drocco and Franco Mello for Gufram
Gufram, Ceretti, Derossi, Rosso, Guido Drocco and Franco Mello
Vintage 1960s Italian Mid-Century Modern Coat Racks and Stands
Foam
This is the original vintage coat hanger cactus, designed by Guido Drocco and Franco Mello for Gufram in 1968. Some wear and traces of ages, but in an overall good original condition...
Three-Panel Screen by Alessandro Mendini for th...
Alessandro Mendini
Vintage 1980s Italian Screens and Room Dividers
Plywood
Three-panel screen, designed in 1988 by Alessandro Mendini and Alessandro Guerriero for the Ollo collection, edited by Alchemia. Laminated plywood printed in Mendini's Olimpics patte...
Ashoka Large Table Lamp by Ettore Sottsass for ...
Ettore Sottsass, Memphis Group
Vintage 1980s Italian Post-Modern Table Lamps
Steel
Ashoka lamp by Ettore Sottsass for Memphis, Milano, 1981. Excellent condition.
Orange Eero Aarnio 'Kantarelli' Fiberglass Side...
Asko, Eero Aarnio
Vintage 1960s Finnish Mid-Century Modern Side Tables
Fiberglass
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 ...
Alessandro Mendini - "Dipylon" Rand Totem Sculp...
Alessandro Mendini
21st Century and Contemporary Abstract Sculptures
Ceramic
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. ...
La Femme Commode by Nicola L. Cat-Berro Gallery...
Nicola L.
21st Century and Contemporary French Commodes and Chests of Drawers
Wood
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...
Ziggurat Container by Oeuffice
Oeuffice
2010s Lebanese Arts and Crafts Decorative Baskets
Acrylic, Wood
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...
Porfido Coffee Table by Piero Gilardi for Gufra...
Memphis Group, Piero Gilardi, Gufram Furniture
Vintage 1970s Italian Post-Modern Coffee and Cocktail Tables
Polyurethane
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...
Fruit Bowl "Sol" by Ettore Sottsass
Ettore Sottsass, Memphis Group, Canedese
Late 20th Century Italian Centerpieces
Glass
Ettore Sottsass, Fruit Bowl "SOL" 1986 for Memphis Milano Signed: E. SOTTSASS PER MEMPHIS MILANO Multi-colored blown glass produced by: Gino Canedese & Figlio, Venedig.
"PIP-e" Stackable Outdoor Chair Designed by Phi...
Philippe Starck, Driade
21st Century and Contemporary Italian Chairs
"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...
Angelo Mangiarotti for Skipper, Modern Set of S...
Angelo Mangiarotti, Skipper Furniture
Vintage 1980s Italian Modern Chairs
Fiberglass
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...
Tuskan Stool by Oeuffice
Oeuffice
21st Century and Contemporary Italian Stools
Travertine, Marble
Tuskan stool, part of the Kapital Collection by Oeuffice Limited edition of 12 Handcrafted in Italy, from three different stones: Rosso Verona Marble, Roman Travertine, Luzerna sto...
A. Mendini and A. Guerriero, Column 'Collezione...
Gruppo Alchimia
1990s Italian Modern Cabinets
Crystal, Laminate
Column "Ollo Collection", Museo Alchimia, 1990, glossy polyester lacquered wood panels, glossy white and black lacquered top and bottom discs, matte black lacquered interior, crystal...
Mid-Century Italian Marble Table with Tubular M...
Vintage 1970s Italian Coffee and Cocktail Tables
Marble, Metal
White marble tabletop with black metal tubular base. Italian, 1970s.
American 1960s Chrome Mushroom Lamps
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Table Lamps
Chrome
Tall chrome column table lamps with deep-tiered chrome base and chrome dome mushroom shades.
Four Dining or Side Chairs Designed by Nicos Zo...
Nicos Zographos
Vintage 1970s Dining Room Chairs
Four armless chairs in tubular metal upholstered in black, basket weave fabric, designed in 1966 by Nicos Zographos for the General Fireproofing Company.
Sanremo Floor Lamp by Archizoom Associati
Archizoom Associati
Vintage 1960s Italian Post-Modern Floor Lamps
Metal
Sanremo floor lamp (1968). Archizoom (Italy) / Poltronova. Painted sheet steel base and stem with laser-cut metacrylate pendants, halogen (50 watt) / Dimensions: W 38 x H 225 x D 38...
Seating Landscape "Safari" by Archizoom
Archizoom Associati, Poltronova
Vintage 1960s Italian Sectional Sofas
Fiberglass
"Safari" Seating Landscape by Archizoom Associati, 1968 for Poltonova. Four segments can be arranged together or placed separately. White painted glass-fibre reinforced polyeste...
Dorik Stool by Oeuffice
Oeuffice
21st Century and Contemporary Italian Stools
Granite, Marble
Dorik stool, part of the Kapital Collection by Oeuffice Limited Edition of 12 Handcrafted in Italy, from 3 different stones: Nero Assoluto Granite, Porfido Rosso Granite, Biancone ...
Pair of Italian Table Lamps Chi by E Gismondi f...
Artemide, Emma Gismondi Schweinberger
Vintage 1960s Italian Mid-Century Modern Table Lamps
Art Glass
CHI bedside lamps by Emma Gismondi Schweinberger for Artemide, 1962. Fine, high quality Italian glass shades in excellent condition on nickel plated brass stems. Diffused, glowing li...
"Soft Egg" Stackable Monobloc Armchair Designed...
Philippe Starck, Driade
21st Century and Contemporary Italian Modern Armchairs
Polymer
"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...
"Giova" Table Lamp + Flower Pot Designed by Gae...
Fontana Arte, Gae Aulenti
21st Century and Contemporary Italian Modern Table Lamps
Metal
"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...

Laverne Lucite "Lily" Chair

By Erwine & Estelle Laverne
Laverne Lucite "Lily" Chair
Erwine & Estelle Laverne
Vintage 1960s American Lounge Chairs
Lucite
Manufactured by Laverne International, USA. From the "Invisible Group" series. Original fuzzy red cushion.
Large Glass Table Lamp by Stepan Tabery
Stephan Taberi, OPP Jihlava
Vintage 1970s Czech Space Age Table Lamps
Brass, Blown Glass
Up for sale is two rare large glass table lamps designed by Stepan Taberi for the Czechoslovakian company OPP Jihlava early 1970s. Very well built quality with two layers of glas...
Assorted Matteograssi Style Leather Chairs
Unknown
Vintage 1960s Dutch Mid-Century Modern Dining Room Chairs
Leather, Chrome
Black leather Marcel Breuer style cantilevered armchair with chrome frame. Original condition with visible scratching and wear. Leather wrapped armrests secured with a screw. Origina...
Enzo Mari "Pago - Pago" Dark Purple Plastic Vas...
Enzo Mari
Vintage 1960s Italian Mid-Century Modern Vases
Plastic
Designed by Enzo Mari in the 1960s this Pago Pago vase is dark purple plastic and can be used standing on either end. Marked on the inside bottom of the vase.
Floor Lamp "Svincolo" by Ettore Sottsass, Studi...
Ettore Sottsass, Memphis Group, Studio Alchimia
Vintage 1970s Italian Memphis Group Floor Lamps
Chrome
Floor Lamp &quot;Svincolo&quot; by Ettore Sottsass, Studio Alchimia Milano 1979 laminated wood, chromed metal, neon-light
Memphis Style Side Table, circa 1980s
Peter Shire, Memphis Group
Vintage 1980s Unknown Modern Side Tables
Steel, Glass
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.
Elda Chair by Joe Colombo for Comfort, 1963
Joe Colombo, Comfort, Italy
Vintage 1960s Italian Mid-Century Modern Swivel Chairs
Leather, Fiberglass
The Elda lounge chair was designed in 1963 and is made of a fiberglass shell with a rotating base, the seat is padded with black leather covering. The iconic piece, designed by Joe C...
Large "Circa" Chromed Aluminum and Cast Iron Ta...
Lumenform
Vintage 1970s Italian Modern Table Lamps
Aluminum, Chrome, Iron, Rubber
This rare, large-scaled &quot;Circa&quot; table lamp was manufactured by Lumenform in 1970. A large cast on/off button sits at the top of a wide chromed shade with an off-white ename...
Lino Sabattini "Germoglio" Silver Plated Vase f...
Lino Sabattini, Sabattini Argenteria
Vintage 1970s Italian Modern Vases
Silver Plate
Beautiful organic form that speaks to its name of "Germoglio," meaning "Bud" or "Sprout." The finely crafted silver plated body exemplifies the skill of Lino Sabattini's eponymous fi...
Paul Talman "Fifty Fifty" Wall Lamp
Paul Talman
Vintage 1960s Swiss Mid-Century Modern Wall Lights and Sconces
Aluminum, Plastic
Paul Talman wall lamp. Model "Fifty Fifty". Aluminum base and plastic spheres. Spheres can be rotated creating different patterns. Two lamps available. Switzerland, 1960s.  
Stilnovo Table Lamp Model 8051, Italy, 1960s
Stilnovo
Vintage 1960s Italian Mid-Century Modern Table Lamps
Metal
Table lamp modell 8051 by Stilnovo Milano Italy of the 1960s, with a tilt table head and adjustable stand. Label of Stilnovo on the back, slight signs of usage. For the electrificat...
Rocking Chair Produced by Fasem in Italy
Mart Stam
Vintage 1960s Italian Mid-Century Modern Rocking Chairs
Leather, Chrome
Rare rocking chair produced by Fasem in Italy.
Fiberglass and Leather ‘Diabolo’ Chair by Ben S...
Vintage 1960s Dutch Mid-Century Modern Armchairs
Leather, Fiberglass
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 ...
Franco Albini & Franca Helg for Sirrah Chromed ...
Sirrah, Franco Albini and Franca Helg, Antonio Piva
Vintage 1960s Italian Mid-Century Modern Floor Lamps
Metal
Floor lamp AM/AS series designed by Franco Albini and Franca Helg in collaboration with Antonio Piva, manufactured by Sirrah in 1969. Opaline glass shade, chrome plated base. Model A...
Lagardo Tackett Planter by Architectural Pottery
Architectural Pottery, Lagardo Tackett
Vintage 1970s American Mid-Century Modern Planters and Jardinieres
Ceramic
Iconic planter design by Lagardo Tackett for Architectural Pottery Los Angeles. From the curated collection Space 20th Century Modern.

Michael Graves Mailbox

By Michael Graves (b.1934)
Michael Graves Mailbox
Michael Graves (b.1934)
Late 20th Century American Collectibles and Curiosities
Steel, Aluminum
A splendid Michael Graves Mailbox
Alberto Rosselli "P110" lounge chair for Saporiti
Alberto Rosselli Saporiti
Vintage 1970s Italian Lounge Chairs
Rare orange "P110" lounge chairs by Alberto Rosselli for Saporiti. Ref : Andrea Branzi 'Il design Italiano 1964 -1990' p.75
Mirror Designed and Signed by Ettore Sottsass, ...
Ettore Sottsass
21st Century and Contemporary Italian Modern Wall Mirrors
Mirror
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...
Peter Shire Elyssian Heights Floor Lamp
Peter Shire
Late 20th Century American Memphis Group Floor Lamps
Metal
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...
Peter Shire "Olympic Torch" Floor Lamp
Peter Shire, Memphis Group
Late 20th Century American Memphis Group Floor Lamps
Aluminum, Steel
A very large Memphis style floor lamp created for the Los Angeles Olympic village of 1984 by famed artist, Peter Shire.
First Chair by Michele De Lucchi
Michele De Lucchi
Vintage 1980s Italian Memphis Group Chairs
Metal
First Chair by Michele De Lucchi (Italy) for Memphis srl (1983). Created in 1983 in an effort to offer an "every person" chair for those with limited budgets, the first chair qui...
Pair of Robert Venturi "Chippendale" Chairs
Robert Venturi, Knoll International
Vintage 1980s American Post-Modern Chairs
Upholstery, Wood
Pair of "Chippendale" chairs by Robert Venturi. Reference: Knoll - A Modernist Universe, Brian Lutz, pgs. 214, 215. Chairs retain label. Construction is laminate over plywood with up...