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Emily Henderson

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by Emily Henderson
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I think we can safely say that there is no style that won’t make a comeback – no matter how much we dislike it at this very second. They just all come back, often in a different form or an updated color palette but at some point in our life every trend will return.  I once joked that the only thing in fashion that I didn’t think would ever come back is the bolo tie, but I was wrong (not that I embraced that trend, please). So it should be no surprise that the Memphis Trend has been popping its bright, geometric head up lately. It wasn’t even very big or well-loved the first time around (in the 80’s) but that doesn’t mean that its all bad (in fact there are some awesome pieces on our roundup).

But first, lets revisit the horror:

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Wow. That furniture sure had a LOT of character. I’m terrified to say that if I were 8 years old in the 80’s I probably would have been into it. I love me some ‘funky’ furniture (hell, I do own a hand chair after all). And what little kid wouldn’t love this – I read a quote that it’s Memphis is if Bauhaus had a baby with Fisher Price.

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While many elements of the 80’s are certainly back in home design (with the 90’s also happening, too) I think it’s safe to say that the 80’s was not a decade where ‘timelessness’ really mattered and generally it wreaked havoc in fashion and home (P.S. I’m getting the new ‘perm’ soon … and I’m absolutely not joking.)

They like REALLY designed things. Going all out like this is so fun and I’d love, love, love to be in this bathroom for a very short time.

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No words.

Now in this photo, below you can see a glimmer of hope. When you take most of the color out of it it becomes far more interesting and almost attractive… the 80’s referenced art deco a lot and I’m very into that original style.

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This is one of the better versions from the 80’s – Karl Lagerfield’s Monaco apartment.

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Totally normal…. but pretty awesome. You couldn’t pay me to live there but I would absolutely airbnb the heck out of that place for a week and the kids would think we went to disneyland.

This guy, Dennis Zanone, REALLY likes this Memphis style, so much so that he has amassed the largest collection in the world in his Tennessee home. I wonder if it’s because there maybe aren’t a lot of competitive “collectors”. Here is a link that talk more about him and his collection.

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So how could that possibly be back, even a little bit? Let’s break down the elements – geometric shapes, bright colors, color-blocking and a lot of WACK. Sound familiar?

It may not be what I’m super into right now (or you) but those things are trending but in a more modern 2017 way.

I think that Orlando’s design of Design Milk Jaime Derringer’s bedroom is certainly 80’s inspired,could even lean Memphis and I love it:

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We’ve notice it popping around more and more in editorials …

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I love this shot below. Yes there is bright red and some ‘funky’ happening, but it’s restrained enough with sculptures that are balancing it in a neutral color palette.

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The color blocking of the door, the melon cart and that piece of art are all we need to get the feeling of Memphis without the you know, total insanity.

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It’s still pretty terrifying to be honest. And terrifying things always create good content, right? So we gave ourselves the challenge – could we create a collection of contemporary products that feel Memphis that we actually like and would own or buy for a client?

And we did.

Emily Henderson Trends Design Eighties Mempis Get The Look 11

1. ‘Fun Patterns with Pink’ Print | 2. Patterned Stool | 3. Winslow Sleeper Sofa | 4. Zig Zag Floor Lamp | 5. Black Coffee Table | 6. Rug | 7. Confetti Throw Pillow | 8. Black and White Sprinkle Pillow | 9. Grid Pillow | 10. Lips Throw Blanket | 11. Terrazzo Halfmoon Arc | 12. Neon Pink Candlestick | 13. Bottle Vase | 14. Buckle Jar | 15. Shape Up 5 Piece Chandelier | 16. Margot Pyramid Table Mirror | 17. Charcoal Dinner Plate | 18. Plastic Cereal Bowl | 19. Grid High Ball Glass | 20. Tea Towels Set | 21. Circle Wire Hook | 22. Triangle Wire Hook | 23. Pink Chair | 24. Striped Box Side Table | 25. Yellow Digital Print | 26. Neo Laminati Chair No. 34 | 27. Janis Metal Shelf | 28. Platform Bowl | 29. Scribble Vase | 30. Yellow Lamp | 16. Wave Trivet

Now not all of these would work in my current house (or perhaps “none of them” would be more accurate ) but let’s just say we had a client funky enough to go for this look, I could absolutely get behind it.

Are you slightly convinced that some references from this Memphis are back and awesome? Or are you over and out?

  1. Too whackadoodle for me! Fun post though. Your interpretation for today’s client shows how talented you are!

    1. Agreed! It’s one thing to have great taste–another thing entirely to be able to deliver someone else’s style and vision if it’s not your personal fave. So well done, Emily!

  2. 🤦🏼‍♀️

  3. I just can’t! Nothing homey or cozy about this style.

  4. I would totally buy all of those pieces you linked! I love FUN! As long as it makes your heart sing, that’s all that matters! I’m very much a color/geometric/color blocking girl! Not a fan of the old photos, but love the new and improved!

  5. Terrible! Unless it’s for a kid’s playroom.

  6. I can’t say that I like this trend… But it does have an oddly satisfying/calming affect that I can only describe as nostalgic for my childhood. It reminds me of the old McDonald’s playplaces and Discovery Zones; something I loved very much in the early 90s.

    1. Yes!! I totally miss those bright McDonald’s from my youth. Nowadays, the McDonald’s restaurants I go to with my kids are all decorated in brown and taupe decor – like they are really trying to be modern and Starbucksian. No offense, McD’s, but your McCafe is not why I visit you – it’s the $3 Happy Meals!

    2. I thought Discovery Zone too! It definitely gives me those nostalgic vibes as well, but I definitely could not get behind it for my home. I’m glad my parents never embraced any of these trends in the 80’s, ha!

    3. YES! I was totally thinking about the skating rink we used to go to every week ask kids. haha

      That said, I could get on board with some of the pieces you linked to. Not typically my style, but I think we’ve seen a lot of restraint over the last several years in design and I’d like to see more fun and whimsy. Kindah Khalidy is one of my favorite artists right now and I would die to have a piece of hers… and I feel like it nods to this design style.

    4. YES!!!!! I mean my kids would LOVE IT. Oversized furniture where you feel like a miniature person??

  7. WOW. It’s like the complete opposite end of the spectrum from all that California casual. At some level, some color is a welcome relief after all those white walls and pieces of wood. But a little can go a LONG way. (But the Fisher Price bathroom insight was genius). Weirdly, it reminds me of some very bright and modern youth hostels I stayed in in Europe at various points in the 90s. But there too, there was a lot of white to balance out all that color. But ultimately, I am a “zen” on your design quiz and like a hefty dose of natural features and textures (plants, wood, stone) and there doesn’t seem to be any of that here.

  8. I think the modern interpretation is interesting and more restrained than the original (like you said). It’s not for me personally, but I enjoy looking at the new interpretation.

  9. Firstly, i didn’t realize this was called “Memphis,” so thanks for the education! It’s so fun to look back. I distinctly remember my neighborhood McDonalds (in Ohio) had FULL ON Memphis decor through the 90s.

    I think Orlando’s triangular artwork in his new space lean Memphis and i LOVE it, but i’m not ready for the crazy primary colors.

    Also curious, when i was house hunting some years ago, I remember seeing a few custom builds from the 80s with glass block shower surrounds — sometimes they were circular. Was that an output of the “Memphis” trend?

    1. oh my goodness! I reference McD’s in my comment below before I read your comment! (Also in Ohio.) HA! I had a McD’s bday party in ’86 and everything.

  10. Emily! I actually love this look as you’ve illustrated in your board! The craziness works as long as you temper it with a couple of neutrals.
    Oddly enough, I feel like Kelly Wearstler hits this vibe pretty consistently (does she still have her blog, My Vibe My Life?) Just throw a couple of brass busts of various nudes in repose and you have it.

    1. My thought exactly!!!! Kelly is modern Memphis for sure.

      1. Yep! some of the crazy expensive pieces are hers (the black and white striped chair which is DOPE). she’s definitely got an 80’s thing happening right now …

  11. We asked for color:) I hated all the full on 80’s Memphis pictures, and wasn’t really digging many of the scaled back current day versions…except I do like the kitchen with the teal/turquoise door. It’s a good exercise to identify what elements I like even in trends that don’t.

    I’ve always loved Kandinsky and a lot of his pieces fit right in with this trend.

  12. Not feeling this style, even the modern version of it. Well-written post though.

    After Googling, I don’t think someone could pay me enough to undergo a modern perm – I think it would take around $2k of the salon paying me before I’d do it. Same for the blorange (blonde + orange) hair trend that’s having a moment. May work for 1 to 5% of people, but not me.

    1. HA. I’m scared. It’s new, and its the ‘beach wave perm’. Wish me luck 🙂

      1. I hope you are planning an entire post on this perm. Seriously. I am forever trying to get the “beach wave” look and failing every time!

  13. This gives me anxiety. NOOO

  14. oh my. I have a physical reaction to each photo – makes me nauseous! Born in ’81…but that’s pretty much the only 80s that are in my blood. (Although, we went to this amazing doctors office when I was a kid … and it had ALL of this style of furniture plus funhouse mirrors, and we loved it.) But, now, I see the red and yellow and bright colors and, yes, it takes me instantly back to the 80’s — directly to a McDonald’s (or to pee-wee’s playhouse).

  15. In small doses, mainly more color-blocking than anything else, I can get into it. http://masquespacio.com/en/ (your image with the blue and marigold color-blocked “office” above) does this REALLY well. I love how they’re referencing the style but giving it a fresh perspective and sometimes bohemian edge.

    1. Also, I LOVE Orlando’s design of Jaime Derringer’s bedroom, and that reminds me…. What’s going on with her living room/dining room refresh that you guys posted about so long ago? I’m dying to see the finished product. I can’t wait to see the custom dining room rug (and get the deets on where to do this) as well as the Hoffman chairs around the table, etc. Pretty please on an update of that project?!

      1. HA. stay tuned 🙂 We were almost done when we realized that we we could never be proud of her room with the sectional that she already had. It was just not working for us and since this was a trade situation for press i was like – we have to at least make it look AMAZING . I believe we are shooting it in 3 weeks, reveal in September!

        1. YEEEESSSSS! Can’t wait! Thank you for the update.

  16. Um, I think that second terrible picture is from the movie “Ruthless People”! (Why do I know that and not the plot of any Shakespeare comedy?) I can’t get on board with any of this stuff; it’s so cartoony that it’s exhausting. But good for you for trying to make it less horrible.

  17. Um, I think that second terrible picture is from the movie “Ruthless People”! (Why do I know that and not the plot of any Shakespeare comedy?) I can’t get on board with any of this stuff; it’s so cartoony that it’s exhausting. But good for you for trying to make it less horrible!

  18. No.freakin.way.

  19. It’s awful. All of it.

  20. I do not love it. Certain elements (vases, pillows, and small hard goods) remind me a lot of Oh Joy in a good way. Come to think of it the pink sofa does too! Orlando did a wonderful job on the client room with the style.

    1. I thought the same! And also Ban.do! So is their style considered ‘Memphis’? I never knew the name for this trend, and although I’m not a huge fan, I have loved looking at the Oh Joy and Ban.do designs!! They’re so fun!

      1. Funny, we originally had both of those brands on the board but then edited it. They are both friends, so now I feel bad!! They just didn’t feel memphis enough to me …

  21. I like the Memphis style some – the bright colors and clean geometric lines really appeal to me. But when the furniture gets so bizarre you can’t use it, and the colors look like the inside of an 8-pack of crayons, it starts to be way too much.

    Thanks for this post! I never new this style had a particular name.

  22. Love all of the modern examples (though in my own home I prefer more complicated colors than the pure primary red/blue/etc) and all of your products you picked. Had never heard of this style specifically before but will definitely keep an eye out for it in the future, since graphic + bold + intense color is really what I shoot for at home!

  23. Not my style at all but I know it’s just the thing for some. I am in a point in my life that timeless is more attractive. I guess that leads to the discussion of what is truly timeless…

  24. Um, after the mention of getting the new ‘perm’ that’s all I wanted to hear more of!

    1. I’ll second that!

    2. Ha! Me too! I had to google it. I’d love to hear about that, Emily! I’m naturally curly (very!) (similar to Shakira’s curly curly hair) but so interested. Also, I thought this post was really fun, even if I’m not into it! Loved it!

    3. DItto. The word “perm” scares me more than anything in this post. (Which I enjoyed very much for all the colors and graphic elements, btw.) But “perm” is one of those hopeful words that one thinks will be great and then is filled with so much regret. Tell me more.

      1. Agreed on all accounts!

        Does anyone remember the “body wave” perm? I never got it, but my friend with straight hair got it done and it looked pretty good!

    4. haha yes! tell us about this perm!?!

    5. I do miss that picture of you with the wild and curly hair that used to be on the front page of the blog! I don’t know if I would venture into permland again – most of the pics I could find online of this “new perm” just look like my hair airdried and unstyled, but I’m totally interested!

    6. I also require more information about this perm 😂 (but thanks to other commenters now I also have to go Google “blorange trend” brb)

      1. HA HA HA HAHAHA. You guys are going to FREAK OUT. It’s a beach wave perm and its new (and like very few celebrities have even had it). It could make my life so much easier, or ruin it. Obviously I trust the hair stylist (Streicher sisters) and you know i’ll be blogging about it. I’m extremely excited.

        1. When is this going down?!

  25. Fun post! While I do like *some* of the pieces you highlighted, I think it is safe to say we do NOT need a full breakdown on how to get this look. That said, I’ll allow another to completely disagree 🙂

  26. It’s actually looking really fresh and good, crazy how updated trends end up doing that!

    Characters & Carry-ons

  27. Really into this trend!

  28. Gah, this is a bit too cuckoo for me.

    BUT, I do totally appreciate the design education and the featuring of different design styles. Your interpretation of Memphis for the modern client is brilliant, well done!

  29. Peewee’s Playhouse. I find it overstimulating personally, but there’s a lid for every pot.

    1. OMG. I can’t believe I didn’t reference Peewees playhouse … totally.

    2. YES!! I went directly to Pee Wee’s Playhouse!! Man, I appreciate art history, but the Memphis style… I just can’t.

  30. The 80’s are totally back in design and fashion! I like elements of it but over all its not my style. Joy Cho reminds me a lot of this style! I think it can be well done but it is super easy to over-do.

  31. ew. no. the only good thing about it is that it reminds me a little of the diner in Saved by the Bell. And Saved by the Bell was such a fun show and fun time. 🙂

    1. hilariously in think they are doing a saved by the bell restaurant in LA soon (I think the exact set … it might just be temporary, not sure). So yah, its a thing. SCREECH!!

  32. Minus the primary colors, I love it! Does that make it not Memphis, then? There’s something TNG Star Trek about it that I’m really into.

  33. Not. Gonna. Happen. The 80’s need to stay far away.

  34. I’m kind of amazed that no one has referenced Pee Wee’s Playhouse!

    1. HA, someone did and i commented back the exact same thing. It’s spot on.

  35. I have to ask, what is “the new ‘perm'”? I’ve always wanted wavy hair, but I feel like perms are considered out of style, and I don’t know how many stylists can do them. Are perms coming back in style in LA? Are they bigger, looser curls?

  36. Ha! What a fun post. After 4 years of design school and 3 years in the commercial design world and I’ve never heard of this!? I suppose the style isn’t a gleaming example of high design but I do love your modern take. Good work!

  37. Pee Wee’s Playhouse!

  38. I don’t think I would ever commit to this look, but this is a great post. I love seeing your interpretation of old trends–please consider doing more of these. Plus, I would even buy that CB2 coffee table. I echo the other comments about the comfort of the 1980s in some of these photos–I too had a pang of nostalgia.

  39. “Let’s revisit the horror ” hahahaha

  40. While I like the photo with the green door and blocky art (since it’s not very Memphis at all) the rest is just awful. There’s too much pattern and primary colours to be restful at all. Too bizarre for me but to each their own 🙂

  41. wow, I can’t think of a style I dislike more! But agreed, stripped of color it is somewhat “better” and leans deco. It’s interesting that so much of the shapes in modern jewelry design seem very inspired by this trend. and it works amazingly well. how?!

    thanks for this post! but now I’m going to pinterest some Big Sur homes to clean my palate 😉

    (omg, new perm? whaaaat?)

  42. If you want to see a whole house decorated in the Memphis Style, check out the movie Ruthless People with Bette Midler and Danny De Vito. The furnishings are an additional cast member. A fun post, Emily.

  43. Nooooooooooooooo! Make it stoooop!

  44. ever see the artsy tinker toys, “ZOLO”? Memphis style reminds me of ZOLO. It’s, as they say, “a lotta look” but also kind of fun in small doses (either in time or in space!)

  45. Definitely not for me, but to each her own. I could see somebody having fun with this style, but not moi. 🙂

  46. Nope can’t do it…I feel like all of these except the 2017 bedroom are giving me anxiety. This is a trend that should go away!! All of these rooms look like every one of the fresh prince of Bel-Air’s tee shirts.

  47. Would love a post on which elements of the 80’s and 90’s are back that wouldn’t necessarily put you into this Memphis zone. I grew up in the 80’s/90’s and my parents have recently retired and are going through the whole “get rid of all the things” phase. Just wondering if there is anything worth salvaging or should we just let it all die? Specifically, what’s your take on lacquered furniture? Only appropriate you think if you want to lean Memphis?

    1. agreed. that would be a great post.

      1. I need pics! Sounds super interesting. Generally unless it was high quality then i’d say don’t hoard, but if they have really good stuff from that era then there is a pretty good chance it could be either cool or valuable….

  48. I am totally OUT, but I do love Orlando’s bedroom design… So maybe I just like to look at really refined versions of this?

  49. Gag me with a spoon.

  50. Reminds me of PeeWee’s Playhouse!

  51. Love it! Not for me full-tilt, though I can see elements added in for a litle spike. Hey, it’s fun, and cool…and…why the heck not?

  52. I have been loving “Australia’s most popular design blog” The Design Files for years, and since I was a teen in the 80’s I have been absolutely alert to the return of the Memphis trend, oh so very evident in much of the art, fashion, and home decor on their site. I have found myself pinning jewelry and art in this retro 80’s style. I also really appreciate the simple, geometric, bold, sculptural version of this style a la Orlando. Curious to see if it’s sculptural and colorful playfulness begins to creep into my obsessively assembled mid-century/california-casual/mill-valley-inspired interior design style…
    Some Memphis-related Australian design some of you may like on thedesignfiles:
    Douglas and Bec’ (furniture); A Life Individual-Andrea Sullivan (artist); Bobby Clark (artist); Adelaide Daniell, Fraser Daniell and Harry Scott (home).

    1. It’s funny because I was going to reference the australians for definitely dipping their toe in this (intentionally or not) far more than American artists or stylists … Totally agree.

    2. Douglas and Bec are New Zealanders. A super talented father and daughter team.

    3. Yes! As an Aussie I was reading this thinking “this doesn’t seem entirely new to me” this aesthetic is definitely evident in even some of Australia’s more mainstream interior and fashion offerings. Kip & co (bedding), arro home (interiors) and of course gorman all have a tendancy to lean this way with some of their bold colours and lines. The photos of this style mixed in with more modern styles feels quintessentially Australian to me! Many of my Aussie friend’s are not afraid to use bold pattern and colour like this in their homes, always mixed with at least another style or two (usually either vintage or
      boho or California casual, as you call it… Or even mid-century!) I like to think it compliments the dramatic landscape of the county’s huge blue skies, sweeping red desserts, bold sunshine etc.

  53. lord have mercy, NO we are not into it!!!! 🙂 ha! this is the worst. i think YOU could absolutely incorporate these items in a beautiful way, so i’m not slighting you at all, but the style altogether is just too much. however, i think i remember a commenter saying they were ready for some color after all the california casual posts, and, boy did you deliver!

  54. NO. Not even a picture frame.

    Feels so good to skip a trend.

    I don’t mind trends in fashion, I hate them in interior design. Personal decorating is timeless.

  55. Oh I am so not ready for this! But your contemporary take on it doesn’t look bad, especially if someone was a lover of color, modern shapes, and graphics. But definitely not for me. I agree that kids would probably be all over this! I think if you swapped a couple of things out on your ‘get the look’ board, it could be a bedroom design some teenage girls would swoon over 🙂

  56. Orlando is a genius so his interpretation is just the right amount of funk for me. Still an aspiring CA Casual girl myself but like the great Amy Poehler says, “Good for you, not for me.”

    Side note – Girl. That “New” Perm. Didn’t know it was a thing. Actively Googling to find someone now!

    1. Be careful, I think its only in LA (not sure, but its by one particular hair stylist) it’s a beach wave perm and i’m VERY excited.

  57. Wow!!! All I can think of is…..Peewee’s Playhouse.
    Crazy 😜

  58. I like some of the shapes and the bold colors but I hate the squiggles! I loved the art piece in the roundups though! I could see using a couple of the pieces as a fun statement (like those yellow lamps!) but a whole room would just be overkill.

  59. I love when old styles make a comeback! Spices things up a bit

  60. I think Angela at The Painted House (https://www.instagram.com/angela_thepaintedhouse/?hl=en) is fantastic using this style. Her rooms are well curated and interesting without being obnoxious and busy. Check out her home!

    1. Yes, thanks, her art seems very do-able “Memphis”. http://www.angelachrusciakiblehm.com/portfolio

    2. This was an awesome recommendation!!!!! I just lost an hour in her IG. Thanks for suggesting her here 👏🏼

      1. OOH I don’t know her. going to check out . xx

        1. Angela is the best. She’s one of my absolute favorites right now. Here’s a link to her recent house tour on A Beautiful Mess: http://abeautifulmess.com/2016/11/at-home-with-angela-blehm-in-gainesville-georgia.html

    3. Thanks for the link — Interesting!

  61. Beetlejuice ,Beetlejuice ,Beetlejuice haha

    ***I really like the through back room you designed with the pink sofa

    1. BEETLEJUICE!!! yes, why didn’t i think of that. so much wack …..

  62. This style is a conversation piece and that’s it, I just can’t.! However, you guys did an excellent job with the round up, I like the sofa and the pyramid mirror and that’s all. Lol

    1. It’s funny because it wasn’t successful the first time around either. Retail home stores lost SOOO much money because they invested in it and the consumer just wasn’t there. I think the retailers now are doing a much better job (like the ones I linked to) so hopefully the good will stay and the bad won’t come.

  63. OH IT’S COMING. For a few years already, Graphic Designers have been whole heartedly embracing the black and white squiggles and layered patterns that Memphis / PoMo spawned. Even IK blue. (See trendlist.org). But that is the way, non? We’ll glean the best of an era and add modern touches and new materials and it will feel fresh and exciting again. I’m shocked that the 70s could have another go round, but you take out the polyester, a little shag and some brown velvet furniture and suddenly it’s not the Brady Bunch but California Boho. Memphis 2.0 might just be graphic black and white with pastels instead of primaries (and aren’t we are kind of already there?)

    1. Very well said 👆🏻🎯

      1. I totally agree. Its been creeping since 2015 but the home stores really didn’t have anything to link to til recently and I knew that people weren’t ready (although apparently not ready yet). I honestly think people might dabble but the furniture will be a harder sell. Graphic design and fashion are such easier risks …

    2. This, yes. My young daughter loves California Boho (and we’re on the Canadian prairies)! Her Nana was asking what it was, and I described it to her as, “if hippies discovered pastel.” I see the same reworking of Memphis references doing well with folks young enough to not remember the first go-round.

    3. Agreed! And I’m ready.

  64. would love to know more background info on this trend–where it started, who originated it, why its named for Memphis. but i’m a history nerd so I might be alone here.

    1. I almost included all of that, but then wasn’t sure people would be interested. I think you can wikepedia it 🙂

    2. recommended reading topics: Memphis Group and Ettore Sottsass

  65. no, no, no. nothing about it is good. its sharp and mad and angry.

    1. agree! gives me a visceral bad feeling that is hard to put into words, but you just nailed it…

  66. Love love love!!!!! I never even thought you would do a post on this style bc it seems so far from what you do but this was such a thrill for me!!! Thank you so much. I have incorporated elements of it in my home and–like probably anything else in the known universe–is best in moderation. A LOT of moderation 😜 I also agree 100% that paired with organic neutrals it calms the wackiness way down and the geometry and fun colors play off the organic shapes so nice!! Those saying it’s awful here I swear would appreciate it more seeing it balanced out like in Orlando’s room. So fun that you did this!!! Thank you 1000x!!!

    1. Agreed!! Like another commenter mentioned, there are elements in modern design that are used in this style already, and Oh Joy! was a great example.

      I also like the references to Malevich, Kandinsky, and Klee – even Haring from the 80s-90s. I LOVE that Orlando was able to capture Memphis style in such a beautiful way.

  67. I’ve never actually seen this referred to as “Memphis Style” and had to google it understand the background so thanks for teaching me something new. And also I’m kind of surprised this wasn’t covered in my “history of interiors” class! I had always thought of this interior style as Postmodern but I guess it’s a more specific way to describe a type of Postmodern interior. It’s interesting because during that Postmodern trend we saw abstract interpretations of historical forms (the third and fifth photos are great examples of that) and we saw stuff that was just totally out there, all basically a rejection to any of the rules established by classical and modern architects. Most of the time trends come back around because of historical context so I’m curious about what this 80s resurgence means about where we’re at culturally right now. Is this a kind of populist rejection of vintage revivals and minimalism? Does this mean people are starting to enjoy a similar booming prosperity of the late 80s/early 90s? Is this just millenials growing up and feeling a nostalgia for the decor they were born into (the same reason Disney is re-releasing all my childhood favorites)? I don’t really get it. I was never a big fan of what felt kind of wacky and childish to me, but it’s always interesting to see when and why styles come back around!

    1. YES. you are right about millenials. I think thats just it. and they probably didn’t teach it because it was small compared to the general 80’s style that is its umbrella (or maybe they couldn’t bare to teach it in design school :))

  68. What a hilarious post. I must have blocked this trend out of my memory! But looking at it now, I’m basically having an panic attack imagining that stuff in my home. I love how you explore all aspects of design, even when it’s terrifying.

  69. Blech with a capital B. I really dislike primary colors. That said, I do like a couple of your picks from CB2. Fun challenge!

  70. Oh my eyes! So not ready for Memphis to come back. Happy to watch an 80s movie, don’t want to live in one. Fun to see what’s happening though!

  71. No. Just no. No matter how tastefully done, even by Miss Emily, just a big uhh uh for me, lol! Just looking at the photos makes me anxious…. I keep waiting for Peewee Herman to jump out at me!

  72. PERFECT example of ‘if you wore it/did it’ the first time around, you can’t buy into it again. Blech! But I came of age in the 80s so take my feedback with a grain of salt!

  73. This look is not for me but it sure is interesting! I was curious why it’s called Memphis style so I googled it. Was cool to learn that it actually started in Milan by an architecture group that named themselves after a Bob Dylan song!

  74. Emily, wait, I’m confused…you wrote: “I’m terrified to say that if I were 8 years old in the 80’s I probably would have been into it.” But you must’ve been 8 at some point in the 1980s, no? I believe you’re only a year or two older than I, and I turned 8 in 1989, so…is my math off?!

    I’m surprised this style didn’t come back earlier as it seems everyone is way into the 1990s now, at least fashion-wise, not the 1980s…

  75. so, wow! I don’t think I’ve ever even heard of this style, so very educational… As you say, would be fun for a short visit…

  76. I like your interpretation especially the zig zag lamp.

  77. being from Memphis (technically no relation to the style other than the song playing during the original collab) and also a fan of your work- I embrace ALL OF IT! Get funky and fresh without going crazy. Imagine the style and feel, but with colors and textures that fit in your home. Don’t be scared ya’ll! xoxo

  78. I keep getting flashbacks of Peewee Herman! His TV show looked EXACTLY like this…

    The style is not for me personally, but it’s still fun to see the roundup. Thanks, Emily!

  79. NO. Just no.


    Is this the “new Emily?” Because I’m kinda loving this honesty, even if I’m not into this completely insane style.

  80. Two words for this “style”: Clown.Car. Please move on. Quickly.

  81. It’s very Pee-Wee Herman! However, I could see using a few elements to pop color in spots!

  82. Is this some kind of ‘pendulum swing’ from the current shaker, california, all-white-everything trend? Interesting. Maybe I could embrace it in small doses? And please do share, what is the new ‘perm’ … I wouldn’t hate having more volume to my hair 🙂

  83. I KNEW I recognised that room with the colour blocked green door and peachy (reads peach not melon on my screen) cart and the fabulous Kirra Jameson painting. I love that house! I also LOVE the floor of that wild (was it green?) bathroom. Pulled back I really like elements of the style. It was interesting that in Karl Lagerfield’s Monaco apartment there was the organic element of the timber corner cabinet and the branch (which would not have looked out of place in the California series). I think done right it injects some energy into a room.

  84. YES, bring on the color and a style that’s as far away from California casual, organic and boho as can be. I’m at a point in my life where I want my home to be unique, so any time a mass of people is into something, I tend to steer away. I also love color and pattern and have tired of so many homes being whitewashed. None of those styles are bad … and I love white! … I just hate to see sooo much of it.

    I have found myself weeding out some of the bloggers/Instagrammers I used to enjoy because I find that I can no longer relate to their content. Honestly, yours is one of those I’ve been considering dropping. You and your team do lovely work and I’ve enjoyed seeing how you brought your style into your new home, but the majority of your content is geared toward a different market than me. And that’s totally fine! As the kids say, “You do you, boo.” 🙂

    That being said, this post revived me! I grew up in the ’80s and while certainly most of it needs to stay in the ’80s, I’m totally ready for color, pattern, and funky shapes to come back. I’ve never heard of Memphis style, but like some other commenters said, it reminds me of “Saved by the Bell,” and I was thinking of “Beetlejuice” as well. I’m glad to see a different style featured here on your blog.

    As someone else mentioned, Angela Cruschiaki Blehm (@angela_thepaintedhouse) is a perfect example of the right way to do it. She is not afraid to use color and shapes in unique ways, and her home looks like no other. She is my fabric soul sister, too. See her house tour on A Beautiful Mess: http://abeautifulmess.com/2016/11/at-home-with-angela-blehm-in-gainesville-georgia.html.

    1. Thanks for that link! Love it!

  85. Taken as a “head to toe look” (can a room have that too?), Memphis is a lot. It’s like seeing a woman wearing the designer outfit with the matching logo bag, shoes and jewelry–not classy. But when I lived in Europe I would see single Memphis-like pieces mixed in with upscale home interiors in a pretty flawless way. The Italians seem to do it well, so do the French. As individual pieces they can become art objects. Personally I’m pro-Memphis if it’s just one well-chosen piece.

  86. your opening line cracked me up…you’re right, but can you please make sure that “sante fe” doesnt? seems that everything circles back around, but I use fashion as my guide: i wore it when I was twenty, but now I”m 50+…just because I can, doesn’t mean I should! I do love how there are singular pieces that really do give the room a big, bright punch! love!

  87. You are so on point…. great article.

  88. I love this trend so much! I think they were more creative back then!

  89. I loved seeing your modern interpretation of this style! I also love that we are diving into different looks while still feeling current and fresh. I feel I see this look a lot in Architectural Digest, and I gotta say….I kind of dig it!

  90. Yes yes yes! To the original and a new modern (modest) version! Crazy style and I’m crazy for it 😉

  91. Hi Emily,
    I’m kind of liking this, I can imagine by just incorporating a piece or two from this style it can definitly make a room more interesting. While I was at the furniture fair this year in Cologne I saw some of this style. The Petite friture stand (VIlla P.F.) for example was really fun – they seem to have a more pastel color palette making the whole look more modern…

  92. the best thing about all this is that now I know what it’s called so I can stop using the term ‘adult preschool’ to describe to people how I try and set up our apartment.

  93. Not my personal style, but your modern interpretations were very spot on. Someone, somewhere would love it!

  94. I will sit this one out as I remember the 80s. Not with nostalgia. Was it really like that?

  95. Nope! This reminds me of a sculpture in my very corporate legal office that was labeled “ABSTRACT, Formica, 1984.” Which needs no explanation – but it pretty much looked like #11.

    1. Also, “Karl Lagerfield’s Monaco apartment” is a WWE wrestling ring for toddlers, yes? Tempted to do this and let my 18 month old daughter and her buddies go GLOW… This is a viral video waiting to happen!

  96. Never been a fan of the furniture, although I like most of the patterns/colors. I like comfortable, simple, honest. Memphis furniture looks like the set of a sit-com, trying too hard to be interesting. You picked good example pics.

  97. Pretty much. I like this simplity

  98. I think I could very reasonably do the couch, chair and coffee table, that you picked out, but that’s pretty much it! And I love color. Maybe I’m not as wild as I thought. Though I love Orlando’s bedroom design.

  99. That entire fireplace wall in the 5th pic is trompe l’oeil isn’t it? Like, the mantel, the surround, the hearth, the actual fire. 0.o H-to-the-Naw!

  100. Oh my goodness, this took me back! When I was 7 (1985), my mom inherited her childhood home, a gorgeous brick tudor built in 1928. The two bathrooms in the home were very art deco (of course they were, given the date of the home), lots of black and white tile with seafoam green and lavender accents. So when my mom redid the basement family room and my sister’s bedroom, she and her interior designer friend went with Memphis style because it referenced the original art deco stuff. Except, because the original details used those pastels (seafoam and lavender), they continued with the pastel version of Memphis instead of the bright primary colors. My sister’s room had pink and white checkerboard wallpaper, modular white furniture, aqua accents, and an amazing black and white super modern clock. The family room got a super rounded mauve couch, very art deco ivory table lamps, and a black swoosh of a coffee table. I haven’t thought about that decor iteration in so long, thanks for the memories!

  101. I can’t help thinking of 1987’s Wall Street when Bud gets his apartment renovated. That was really over the top too. But I think the mention of Beetlejuice takes the cake.

    AND–I wondered what was wrong with McDonald’s these days! I don’t like the brown. Primary colors should exist there! Note–locations are closing all over the states! They need to get their old interior decorator back!

    One other reference–Kris Kardashian’s house seemed to be all black and white a few seasons back on Keeping up with the Kardashians. I couldn’t see enough shots of it though. I also cut cable so I’m not sure.

    This post was very, very fun. I aspire more to your California expensive (living here kind of prods that on).

  102. Not sure if anyone has mentioned her yet, but artist @angela_thepaintedhouse, on insta executes this style effortlessly. She has a blog, too, which is equally inspiring. I love this style, but I think it might be overwhelming for day-to-day life. I think the California-Casual style is a direct response to this crazy style. It, too, is a study in shape and proportion, while it emphasizes texture and calmness instead of chaos and color.

  103. Now in this photo, below you can see a glimmer of hope. When you take most of the color out of it it becomes far more interesting and almost attractive… the 80’s referenced art deco a lot and I’m very into that original style

  104. The style quiz in your book told me I was 80’s, but I just can’t get on board!

  105. For Sure, these trends are coming back really quickly. Further you your article was great. Check http://costcohours.org/

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