The Memphis movement is back, but maybe it never really went away – the colourful, exuberant and optimistic ideas first launched at the Milan Furniture Fair in 1981 are found just below the surface and still influencing designers today.

At the Kartell exhibition during the Milan Furniture Fair this year there were nine designs by Ettore Sottsass, the Italian designer, architect and protagonist of the Memphis movement.

Designed by Sottsass shortly before his death in 2007, the pieces have been in the Kartell 'wings' for nearly 10 years waiting for the technology necessary to produce them to be developed.

Memphis VS modernism

When architect Ettore Sottsass founded the Memphis Group in 1981 (named after a Bob Dylan song), the movement established a somewhat flamboyant counter to the sleekness of the modern movement. 

Designers usied colour, graphic textiles, asymmetric furniture and objects to break the rules set by Modernism's most dominant figures, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius. Today Memphis reminds us of the essential role that protagonists play in the design world.

New fabrics, upholstery and more

To celebrate the launch of the Ettore Sottsass collection and the history of the Memphis movement, Kartell also produced fabrics designed by Sottsass and his contemporaries –
Nathalie du Pasquier, George Sowden and Michele de Lucchi.

They've also re-covered a range of Kartell armchairs and lounges including the Mademoiselle by Philippe Starck, Foliage and Clap by Patricia Urquiola and Trix by Piero Lissoni.

You can see all new pieces launched at Kartell's colourful opening party in Milan here.