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Memphis Group Seating

Italian

To many people, postmodern design is synonymous with the Memphis Group. This Italian collaborative created the most radical and attention-getting designs of the period, upending most of the accepted standards of how furniture should look.

The Memphis story begins in 1980, when Ettore Sottsass, then a beacon of Italian postmodernism, tapped a coterie of younger designers to develop a collection for the Milan Furniture Fair the next year, determined that all the new furniture they were then seeing was boring. Their mission: Boldly reject the stark minimalism of the 1970s and shatter the rules of form and function. (Sottsass’s Ultrafragola mirror, designed in 1970, embodied many of what would become the collective’s postmodern ideals.)

The group decided to design, produce and market their own collection, one that wouldn’t be restricted by concerns like functionality and so-called good taste. Its debut, at Milan’s 1981 Salone del Mobile, drew thousands of viewers and caused a major stir in design circles.

So as a record of Bob Dylan’s “Stuck Inside of Mobile” played on repeat, they took their name from the song, devised their marketing strategy and plotted the postmodern look that would come to define the decade of excess — primary colors, blown-up proportions, playful nods to Art Deco and Pop art. A high-low mix of materials also helped define Memphis, as evidenced by Javier Mariscal’s pastel serving trays, which feature laminate veneer — a material previously used only in kitchens — as well as Shiro Kuramata’s Nara and Kyoto tables made from colored glass-infused terrazzo.

An image of Sottsass posing with his collaborators in a conversation pit shaped like a boxing ring appeared in magazines all over the world, and Karl Lagerfield furnished his Monte Carlo penthouse entirely in Memphis furniture. Meanwhile, members like Andrea Branzi, Aldo Cibic, Michele de Lucchi, Nathalie du Pasquier, Kuramata, Paola Navone, Peter Shire, George Sowden, Sottsass and his wife, journalist Barbara Radice, went on to enjoy fruitful careers.

Some people think of the Milan-based collective as the design equivalent to Patrick Nagel’s kitschy screenprints, but for others Memphis represents what made the early 1980s so great: freedom of expression, dizzying patterns and off-the-wall colors.

Eventually, the Reagan era gave way to cool 1990s minimalism, and Memphis fell out of fashion. Sottsass left the group in 1985, and by 1987, it had disbanded. Yet decades later, Memphis is back and can be traced to today’s most exciting designers.

“As someone who was born in the 1980s, Memphis at times feels like the grown-up, artsy version of the toys I used to play with,” says Shaun Kasperbauer, cofounder of the Brooklyn studio Souda. “It feels a little nostalgic, but at the same time it seems like an aesthetic that’s perfectly suited to an internet age — loud, colorful and utilizing forms that are graphic and often a little unexpected.”

Find a collection of vintage Memphis Group seating, tables, decorative objects and other furniture on 1stDibs.

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Creator: Memphis Group
First Chair by Michele de Lucchi for Memphis
By Memphis Group, Michele de Lucchi
Located in Vienna, AT
Iconic "First Chair" designed by Michelle de Lucchi for Memphis Milano 1983 in good condition, some scratches to the seat.
Category

1980s Italian Post-Modern Vintage Memphis Group Seating

Materials

Metal

Bel Air Armchair, by Peter Shire for Memphis Collection
By Memphis Group, Peter Shire
Located in La Morra, Cuneo
Peter Shire 1982 Armchair in wood, wool fabrics. The Bel Air chair is a tribute to the American West Coast and surf culture. The asymmetrical back takes ...
Category

2010s Italian Memphis Group Seating

Materials

Fabric, Wool, Wood

First Wood and Metal Chair, by Michele De Lucchi for Memphis Milano Collection
By Memphis Milano, Michele de Lucchi, Memphis Group
Located in La Morra, Cuneo
The First chair in enameled wood and metal, was originally designed in 1983 by Michele De Lucchi. Michele De Lucchi was born in 1951 in Ferrara and graduated in architecture in Florence. During the period of radical and experimental architecture he was a prominent figure in movements like Cavart, Alchymia and Memphis. His architectural designs have been mainly for office buildings in Japan, in Germany, in Switzerland and in Italy. He has taken care of numerous art and design exhibitions and has planned buildings for museums as Triennale di Milano, Palazzo delle Esposizioni di Roma and Neues Museum...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Italian Modern Memphis Group Seating

Materials

Metal

Two Chairs Mod. "First" by Michele de Lucchi for Memphis Milano, Ready to Ship
By Michele de Lucchi, Memphis Group
Located in Madrid, ES
Set of two chairs mod. "First Chair" designed by Michele de Lucchi for Memphis Milano, with structure in metal, seat backrest and armrests in lacquered wood in different colors. Ital...
Category

1980s Italian Vintage Memphis Group Seating

Materials

Metal

Big Sur Wooden Couch, by Peter Shire for Memphis Milano Collection
By Memphis Group, Peter Shire, Memphis Milano
Located in La Morra, Cuneo
The Big Sur couch is made out of 100% wool, and the structure is in lacquered wood. The couch was originally designed in 1986 by Peter Shire for Memphis M...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Italian Modern Memphis Group Seating

Materials

Wood, Wool

Palace Wood Chair, by George Sowden for Memphis Milano Collection
By Memphis Milano, George Sowden, Memphis Group
Located in La Morra, Cuneo
Palace chair in colored lacquered wood, designed in 1983, by George Sowden. George Sowden was born in Leeds, UK in 1942. He studied architecture at Glou...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Italian Modern Memphis Group Seating

Materials

Wood

Nathalie du Pasquier Royal Chaise for Memphis Srl
By Memphis Group
Located in Brooklyn, NY
Famed MEMPHIS Chaise/Couch by the brilliant Nathalie Du Pasquier (France) from the amazing 1983 MEMPHIS Collection. Upholstered in her revered "CERCHIO" ("Circles") textile w/ armre...
Category

2010s Italian Post-Modern Memphis Group Seating

Materials

Lacquer, Laminate, Fabric

Roma Green Armchair, by Marco Zanini for Memphis Milano Collection
By Memphis Milano, Marco Zanini, Memphis Group
Located in La Morra, Cuneo
Roma Green Armchair in fiberglass with iridescent finish, designed by Marco Zanini in 1985. Marco Zanini was born in Trento in 1954. He graduated in architecture at the University o...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Italian Modern Memphis Group Seating

Materials

Fiberglass

Kim Steel and Plywood Chair Michele De Lucchi for Memphis Original 1980s
By Michele de Lucchi, Memphis Group
Located in Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Kim chair designed by Michele De Lucchi in 1987. Made of unique shaped black steel frame and bent plywood for back and seat. Memphis logo mark is on the back of the seat. This logo i...
Category

1980s Italian Post-Modern Vintage Memphis Group Seating

Materials

Steel

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Previously Available Items
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Memphis Group seating for sale on 1stDibs.

Memphis Group seating are available for sale on 1stDibs. These distinctive items are frequently made of wood and are designed with extraordinary care. There are many options to choose from in our collection of Memphis Group seating, although brown editions of this piece are particularly popular. We have 3 vintage editions of these items in-stock, while there is 6 modern edition to choose from as well. Many of the original seating by Memphis Group were created in the modern style in italy during the 21st century and contemporary. If you’re looking for additional options, many customers also consider seating by Giorgio Saporiti, Pietro Arosio, and Pallucco. Prices for Memphis Group seating can differ depending upon size, time period and other attributes — on 1stDibs, these items begin at $1,200 and can go as high as $16,291, while a piece like these, on average, fetch $3,112.
Questions About Memphis Group Seating
  • 1stDibs ExpertMarch 22, 2022
    The Memphis Group was an art and design collective formed in 1980 by Ettore Sottsass. The group debuted in 1981 and continued working together until 1987, producing furniture, decorative objects and textiles. Shop a selection of Memphis Group furniture at 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertMarch 22, 2022
    Numerous artists and designers were in the Memphis Group. Ettore Sottsass founded the collective and served as its leader. Other members included Aldo Cibic, Andrea Branzi, Javier Mariscal, Martine Bedin, Massimo Iosa Ghini, Michael Graves, Michele De Lucchi, Nathalie du Pasquier, Peter Shire and Shiro Kuramata. You'll find a range of Memphis Group furniture at 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertMarch 22, 2022
    The Italian designer Ettore Sottsass founded the Memphis Group in 1980 to fulfill his vision of having a team of like-minded designers collaborating to produce unique furniture and decorative objects. In 1981, the group held their first exhibition and continued to design together until 1987. You'll find a selection of Memphis Group furniture at 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertMarch 22, 2022
    The Memphis Group was created by Italian designer Ettore Sottsass to bring together artists and designers with similar visions. He hoped to combine the ideas of all the members and create single furniture and decorative object designs under one name. You'll find a collection of Memphis Group furniture at 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertMarch 22, 2022
    The Memphis Group designed a wide variety of items from 1980 to 1987 when the collective was active. Their designs included furniture and textiles as well as decorative objects made out of ceramics, metal and glass. Shop a collection of Memphis Group furniture at 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertMarch 22, 2022
    The Memphis Group formed in 1980 when Italian designer Ettore Sottsass invited fellow artists and designers to band together and create a collective. In 1981, the group debuted with a show in Milan, Italy, and continued to collaborate until disbanding in 1987. You'll find a variety of Memphis Group furniture at 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertMarch 22, 2022
    The Memphis Group had an eclectic style created by combining the creativity of numerous artists and designers. Its furniture, textiles and decorative aspects blend elements of Pop Art and Art Deco design. Shop a range of Memphis Group furniture at 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertMarch 22, 2022
    The Memphis Group got its name from the Bob Dylan song "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again." During the group's first meeting led by Italian designer Ettore Sottsas the song was on repeat, and the gathered artists and designers drew inspiration from the title. You'll find a variety of Memphis Group furniture on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertMarch 22, 2022
    The Memphis Group debuted their designs in 1981 with an exhibition at the Salone del Mobile of Milan in Milan, Italy. Although many people criticized their designs at the time, the design group developed a cult following that boasted famous creatives like fashion designer Karl Lagerfield and musician David Bowie. Shop a variety of Memphis Group furniture at 1stDibs.

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