Artists & Designers

Memphis Group

The radical Memphis Group was formed in Milan by Italian designer Ettore Sottsass on December 11, 1980, and consisted of an international group of designers and architects that challenged mainstream design. The influential group was famous for brightly colored postmodern furniture, lighting, and ceramics that shook up the Milanese design scene. The name of this group was taken from the Bob Dylan song, "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again," which had been playing on repeat during the evening of the group's first meeting. They drew inspiration from movements like Pop art and Art Deco and often incorporated plastic laminate, bright colors, and strong geometric forms.

Adapted from

Bonnie Pitman, ed., Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection, (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2012), 350.

Fun Facts

Legendary rockstar David Bowie, who studied art, music, and design before starting his career as a musician, was an avid collector of Memphis design, and over time collected many icons of the group, including Ettore Sottsass’s “Carlton” bookcase/room divider (1995.148.A-C).

Web Resources

Read, "What is it about Memphis?"