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This vintage scarf is a complete mystery to me – no idea about the designer, manufacturer, etc.  All I know is that the colors and design are wacky – and totally remind me of the work from the Memphis group. I know many people do not like Memphis as an art period or “look” but it is undeniably having a comeback.

During a recent rip to NYC I made a point of seeing the MET Breuer exhibit “Ettore Sottsass Design Radical.” I have been drawn to Sottsass and the Memphis group which he founded in 1981, primarily for their use of vibrant color and unique patterns. Memphis seems to be having a moment, largely due to the centenary of Sottsass’ birth this September. But there also seems to be a new generation appreciating the Memphis manifesto which was to challenge the status quo and create its own vocabulary of design. Certainly the founding members sought to dismiss the rules of “good design” or what was traditional at the time, but also to play and celebrate within their design oeuvres. The work has a great sense of fun about it which a lot of people respond to. I myself am particularly fond of the joyful use of color, especially the prolific use of black and white with pops of intense primary colors.

Sottsass worked in many different disciplines such as furniture, textiles, ceramics, jewelry, glass and interior design. This is true of many of the Memphis artists, most notably Nathalie du Pasquier whose work is also having a bit of a rediscovery.

At the MET Breuer show I was drawn to any Sottsass piece that showcased his use of pattern and color – his totem sculptures, the ceramics and most notably his textile designs.



Textile by Ettore Sottsass, 1984


“Bacterio” Laminate, 1978 & “Rete 2” Laminate, 1982 by Ettore Sottsass


“Spugnato” Laminate, 1979 and “Veneziana” Laminate, 1981 by Ettore Sottsass

I did some research looking for more images of Memphis textile designs, here are some selections…


Memphis Milano Shirts


Scarf by Ettore Sottsass
Scarf by Ettore Sottsass















Nathalie du Pasquier is arguably the more notable textile and pattern designer of the Memphis group. Her work includes textiles, carpets, fashion and painting. du Pasquier designed many iconic patterns in the 1980’s that have an exuberance about them that is wholly original. Her designs have an energetic juxtaposition of colors that create a friction that is slightly jarring, but it is also refreshing and inspiring.


Memphis fabrics by Nathalie du Pasquier, 1981-83


“Life’s Commodities” carpet by Nathalie du Pasquier, 2005


Scarf by Nathalie du Pasquier, 1983


“Riviera” carpet by Nathalie du Pasquier, 1983

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