A reaction against the subdued designs of minimalism, the Memphis movement transformed cheap, affordable materials into vibrant furnishings and daring decor. Formed by designer Ettore Sottsass and a group of young designers in Milan in 1982, the movement stretched the creative limits of the design industry—introducing colors, patterns, and shapes in wacky, exuberant ways.
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Today, the hallmarks of Memphis design—think squiggles, geometry, and unrestrained color—are back in full force. The most recent evidence of this can be seen at the flagship Nordstrom in Seattle, which is hosting a curated exhibit and pop-up shop of iconic Memphis pieces and contemporary, Memphis-inspired designs. For the event, Nordstrom vice president of creative projects, Olivia Kim, brought in assistance from Keith Johnson, one of the Memphis movement's original collectors and founder of Urban Architecture.
In tune with the Memphis notion of fun, the exhibit titled Memphis Milano is nothing short of that. It is a new, exciting experience for shoppers that blurs the line between the modern retail scene, and art and design. The exhibit displays as many designers as possible from the original collective, including key pieces from Peter Shire and Michele De Lucchi. In the gift shop, an assortment of enamel pins, paper products, and home decor items offer modern Memphis design at an affordable price.
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"Retailers need to rethink the way they are engaging customers," says Kim. "Nordstrom continues to be a relevant and constantly developing company that strives to educate, inspire, and excite its customers." Memphis Milano captures a magical moment in design history and celebrates its modern-day influence through a collaborative display of fun, radical design.