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Memphis Style Redux

Italy's Modern Movement Experiences a Renaissance

One of the Memphis Group's influencers was Harry Bertoia. This iconic bouclé-covered Bird chair is one of his lasting legacies.

In the early 1980s, a group of designers led by Italian Ettore Sottsass and populated by about 15 others from different backgrounds formed the Memphis Group and took the world by storm. Memphis style, influenced by pop art and art deco with a little ’50s kitsch thrown in, was all about vibrant, acid-toned colors, unexpected combinations, futuristic motifs and asymmetrical, fanciful shapes. And it always featured a tongue-in-cheek sensibility that rebelled against traditional, stodgy furniture and home-design styles. Now, more than 30 years later, Memphis style is back in vogue, as top designers once again embrace these kitschy-cool looks.

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Florence-based Italian designers Roberto Tapinassi and Maurizio Manzoni make a strong statement with this sleek sectional Blogger composition sofa made up of two low-slung tufted monoblock pieces. Filled with high-resiliency foam and built of solid wood, plywood and particle board, this azure-hued $8,350 piece is available at Roche-Bobois at SOCO.
3309 Hyland Ave., Costa Mesa, 714.557.1422 :: roche-bobois.com

A bright red lounge chair invites all sorts of cozy ideas. This Profile design by Roberto Tapinassi and Maurizio Manzoni has room for two modernistas to share a cuddle in cool Memphis style. Upholstered in velvet with a solid beechwood base reinforced with metal, this sleek lounge is $4,910 at Roche-Bobois, SOCO.
3309 Hyland Ave., Costa Mesa, 714.557.1422 :: roche-bobois.com

The Bolla 2 coffee table follows in the original traditions of the Memphis Group, using laminated plastic, flexible tubes, glass and metal to create an ultra-modern and colorful focal point for any living space. The 38-inch-wide table stands 20 inches tall, retails for $1,329 and comes in bright blue, green, red, orange or black. Find it at Viesso.
633 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, 323.591.0635 :: viesso.com

The sleek Toobe floor lamp is a clear descendent of the Memphis movement via designer Ferruccio Laviani. Directly influenced by the group as he came to prominence in the 1990s, Laviani
specializes in modern lighting, and these creations use a PMMA extruded tube to diffuse a soft and warm light via an energy-saving bulb. Each color lamp – red, blue, orange, green and clear – is $360 at Kartell Los Angeles.
313 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood, 310.271.0178 :: kartellstorela.com

Designers Fernando and Humberto Campana mixed chrome-plated steel
and glass into this chaotic, seemingly random modern piece for Alessi Design. This $380 asymmetrical piece, known as the Blow Up Table, stands 17 inches high and is found at Emmo Home, South Coast Plaza.
3333 Bear St., Suite 303, Costa Mesa, 714.438.1013 :: emmohome.com

One of the Memphis Group’s influencers was Harry Bertoia, the Italian-born American designer whose sculptural chair creations in the 1950s helped lead directly to the Memphis movement. This iconic bouclé-covered Bird chair is one of Bertoia’s lasting legacies. Available for $3,193 in yellow, crimson, pumpernickel and onyx at Design Within Reach, SOCO.
3303 Hyland Ave., Suite C-1, Costa Mesa, 714.427.0628 :: dwr.com

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