The Milanese collective Paradisiartificiali pays tribute to the avant-garde Memphis group in a 15sqm room in Milan.
The Memphis group was funded 40 years ago in Milan. It is the evening of 11 December 1980 and a group of young designers and architects has gathered in Ettore Sottsass’s living room.
Aldo Cibic, Matteo Thun, Marco Zanini and Martine Bedin among the others begun to talk about design, they expressed the need to find new expressive forms in which ornamentation should no longer be considered a crime. They felt the urgency to move away from the sober and rigorous style that had characterized the Milanese design of the end of the ’70. Together they decided to create a working group as a reaction to this style that was considered without personality and too minimal.
It is said that the name Memphis was inspired by Bob Dylan’s song “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again”. That evening the record was playing when it jammed precisely on the sentence “with the Memphis Blues Again”. The name Memphis was chosen because it reminded at the same time of the hometown of Elvis Presley (Memphis) but also of the capital of Ancient Egypt (Memphis), thus evoking an ironic combination of high and low culture.
Paradisiartificiali collective was working on a recent project in an apartment in Milan, which involved the design of a new staircase that would replace the existing one, when by chance they came across the Wikipedia page dedicated to Memphis. The studio discovered the date in which the avant-garde group was funded, exactly 40 years ago. The studio immediately felt the need to interpret the space entrusted to them as a celebration of the 40 anniversary of Memphis.
“We thought that the best way to express our gratitude towards the Maestro was to pay homage to him with a dedication in which, as in a rebus, Space and Signs merge: thus was born “Tribute to E. Sottsass” the studio explains.
“Today we celebrate the 40 years that have passed since that evening in December and, since Ettore remains a very bright star for us, we felt it was important to thank him through this small project, about as big as a room.” The room is the lower floor of the house, a hybrid public / private space, a sort of lounge where to receive guests.
The protagonist of the room is the staircase, a folded green steel sheet that connect the lower floor with the upper one. Niches and colored frames carved into the wall, objects and furnishing with an eccentric aesthetic and the bright color palette create a theatrical interpretation of the domestic life. The mix is a clear reference to the aesthetics of the 80’
The project also promotes a happy coexistence between different brands, from the Caruso sideboard by Miniform to the upholstered Pipe by Moroso, from an Ikea carpet and a Maison du Monde pouf to lighting from Foscarini and Artemide. “We always find the idea of drawing from companies with different identities very stimulating“.