Endlessly influential, instantly recognizable and never, ever boring: Memphis is here! The design collective that defined the '80s comes out to play in a shoppable exhibition at our Seattle flagship, where a curated collection of original pieces rubs shoulders with work from modern designers who carry on the spirit of the movement. It's a celebration of all-out color, radical shapes and patterns that won't be ignored—and everyone's invited.
Peter Shire Has the Answers
The inimitable designer and founding member fields our questions about Memphis, inspiration and what's next.
The Origins of Memphis
Founding members and renowned designers George Sowden and Nathalie Du Pasquier on why the movement was inevitable.
Italian architect and designer Ettore Sottsass—creator of Olivetti's iconic red Valentine typewriter—invites a group of designers and architects to his Milan apartment to share ideas for a new approach to design. After enthusiastically swapping sketches of lamps and furniture, they decide to make a collection. They dub themselves Memphis after Bob Dylan's ''Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again," on the record player that night.
The first Memphis collection debuts at the Milan Furniture Fair. Sottsass almost doesn't make it because of a traffic jam—caused by the massive turnout for the group's 40 radical pieces.
The group's first stateside exhibit opens in New York City, and more than 3,000 people show up to a Chelsea loft showroom for a glimpse of "Memphis at Midnight."
"Memphis in Memphis," the collective's first American museum exhibition, opens at Tennessee's Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. The group is greeted at the airport by a band and given keys to the city.
Sottsass, thinking Memphis had run its course, leaves the group to pursue other projects and avoid the media frenzy.
1988 & Beyond
Memphis officially disbands, but its impact continues to reverberate through design, media and pop culture, making it one of the most influential modern design movements.
August 17–October 28, 2018
Nordstrom welcomes Memphis Milano to its Seattle flagship, curating a shoppable exhibition of the group's original works alongside pieces inspired by the movement.