The Memphis Movement is the great cultural italian phenomenon of the ’80s. This phenomenon has revolutionized the creative and commercial logic of the design world. Created on the initiative of Ettore Sottsass and a group of young architects and designers in Milan, Italy.
It was shortly to joined by some of the most famous names on the international design scene. Memphis overturned all the existing preconceptions around the idea of “living”. And then abolished the creative limits, previously dictated by the industry. Design assumed a new expressivity. In the form of new shapes, materials and patterns. Thus, the Memphis movement has become an almost mythical symbol of “New Design”. And its influence is still strong in many areas of production and beyond.
The Memphis movement took the name from the Bob Dylan song. “Stuck Inside of Mobile with Memphis Blues Again”. Ettore Sottsass and the rest of the designers played this song repeatedly throughout the evening’s first meeting. This was on December 1980. They drew inspiration from such movements as Art Deco and Pop Art. Including styles such as the 1950s Kitch and futuristic themes. The famous group produced and exhibited furniture and design objects, annually from 1981 until 1988. And being always present on the Salone del Mobile de Milan. The world’s most prestigious furniture fair.
What I have in common with Memphis movement is my love for the Italian design and the city of Milano. Because Milan is my father’s family origin. The story goes with my great-grandmother, Ernestina Agnelli. She escaped from Italy with my great-grandfather, Ezelino Guadaroli. They traveled from Italy to South America in late 1800. In my family, we used the word “escape” because my grandmother came from a family of old world values. Therefore, they would not accept her relationship with Ezelino. Who was married before. And which finally led to their risky adventure.
They made the transatlantic crossing by boat from Italy to Buenos Aires. And from Argentina, crossed by donkey to Santiago de Chile. They installed and had 8 children. Six girls and 2 boys. And she never returned to Italy. However, over the years my aunts would travel often to Milano. Each time returning to Santiago with gifts for the entire family. And this was always a great event.
As a result, for me, Milano is always a special destination. My first time visiting in 1981, I was a child. Coinciding with the acclaimed debut of Ettore Sottsass & the Memphis movement at Salone del Mobile of Milan. And every time I land in this wonderful city, I am overwhelmed with a familiar sensation. A heartbeat. And always I think of Ernestina and her brave adventure.
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