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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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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

2010s Italian Modern Postmodern Design

Materials

Ceramic

"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

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

Porfido Coffee Table by Piero Gilardi for Gufram Limited Edition, 1974
By Gufram Furniture, Memphis Group, Piero Gilardi
Located in Vienna, AT
Rare limited edition table by Piero Gilardi from 1974. This is an early piece numbered 37/500 Measurements are 38 x 26 x 14 inches. Resembling an ancient engraved piece of stone,...
Category

1970s Italian Post-Modern Vintage Postmodern Design

Materials

Polystyrene

"PIP-e" Stackable Outdoor Chair Designed by Philippe Starck for Driade
By Philippe Starck, Driade
Located in Brooklyn, 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

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

1960s Italian Mid-Century Modern Vintage Postmodern Design

Materials

Marble, Metal

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

21st Century and Contemporary Italian Modern Postmodern Design

"Giova" Table Lamp + Flower Pot Designed by Gae Aulenti for FontanaArte
By Fontana Arte, Gae Aulenti
Located in Brooklyn, 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 transparent blown glass, an inner globe in polished white opaline glass, an upper half-sphere in pink blown glass with decorative bubbles, black power cable, plug and switch. Its lighting source is 1 x 100W 230V E27 (HA, FL, LED). DIMENSIONS: Ø 19.7", H. 23.2" "Giova" marks the debut of Gae Aulenti in the field of lighting design. Available in two sizes, it is both a lamp and a luminous sculpture. Placed on a metal base, a transparent bowl containing a sphere of white opal glass, which in turn houses the light source. Placed above there's a smaller bowl in blown "pulegoso" glass, meaning "with irregular bubbles", which serves as a flower vase. Now also available with gray "pulegoso" glass and a gold finished base. GAE AULENTI graduated from Milan Polytechnic in 1953 and since 1956 has been working there designing for architecture, interior and industrial design and theatre scenery. In the early eighties she was the artistic director at FontanaArte, creating timeless lamps and furnishing elements for the company that are still in the catalogue. In particular: Giova lamp...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Italian Modern Postmodern Design

Materials

Gold, Chrome, Metal

Memphis Style Side Table, circa 1980s
By Memphis Group, Peter Shire
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...
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. Swi...
Category

1960s Swiss Mid-Century Modern Vintage Postmodern Design

Materials

Aluminum

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

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

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

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 almos...
Category

1980s Italian Memphis Group Vintage Postmodern Design

Materials

Ceramic

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 am...
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 almo...
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 act...
Category

1980s Italian Memphis Group Vintage Postmodern Design

Materials

Ceramic

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

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

Matteo Thun Whimsical 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”. Object # 3174 Literature: Barbara Radice, Memphis, Munich, 1988, p. 165 (...
Category

20th Century Italian Postmodern Design

Materials

Ceramic

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

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

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