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  • Writer's pictureMakalla Shernick

Memphis Design Style

A Postmodern Movement with a Lasting Impact on Design


The Memphis design movement occurred in the 1980s and is characterized by scattered and brightly colored lines and shapes. It typically combines black and white patterns with neon or brightly colored squiggles and shapes. This design style really found its home within the rebellious youth population in the United States. MTV was an emerging figure in pop culture at that time, and they are a prime example of how the design aesthetic was used in graphic design.



The Memphis Design aesthetic began in Milan Italy in 1981, when a group of architects and designers gathered to express discontent with the utilitarian and minimalist design trends of the time. These so-called “boring” design trends were a direct result of the Bauhaus movement and shortages caused by WWII. In an attempt to break away from the status quo of the time, a group of designers (later called the Memphis Group) would exhibit a room filled with gaudy, brightly colored, geometric, and highly impractical furniture. This exhibition would go on to inspire the unforgettable design aesthetic of the 1980s.


Modern design trends have seemed to revert to heavy minimalism. However, due to the almost overuse a minimalist design aesthetic in the 2010s, there seems to be a similar rebellion today that is clearly inspired by the Memphis Design movement of the 1980s. An article by Better Homes and Gardens gives examples of current design trends in 2021 that evoke the same characteristics that were established by the Memphis Designers.

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