When the Memphis Group–a cadre of designers, artists, and architects led by the great Italian designer Ettore Sottsass–debuted in 1981, its raucous patterns and playful furniture broke with the seriousness that defined modern design at the time. In the past few years, the movement has come back into fashion and Zig Zag Zurich, a textile brand, has found yet another way to tap into Memphis’s creative spirit: a new line of blankets by industrial designer George Sowden and artist Nathalie Du Pasquier.
To Sowden, pattern and decoration “visually defines special moments of societies’ creative development,” he tells Co.Design. “They underline and communicate the ‘spirit of the time’ and are used as such and because of this.”
Memphis’s prints are unmistakable: they often feature punchy colors and repeating geometric shapes. When Sowden and du Pasquier created these motifs, they were attempting to capture the “mood, attitude, and temperament” of the time. The patterns were often printed on laminates used as veneers on furniture during the ’80s. Now, they appear on clothes and housewares from contemporary brands that are rediscovering Memphis’s work. Zig Zag Zurich’s new CoopDS collection features black-and-white patterns by Sowden and du Pasquier. They’re much more amenable to today’s interiors than some of the louder prints that the two have done.
“Memphis was a defining moment in late 20th-century design–a movement that has influenced the aesthetics and identity of global design since their first exhibition in Milan, in 1981,” Sowden says. “As such, it will never go away but will be added to and constantly reinterpreted by generations to come.”