Saint Laurent celebrates 40 years of Memphis Group

Saint Laurent celebrates 40 years of Memphis Group

Memphis Group’s milestone birthday is celebrated with a series of colourful furniture installations across the French maison’s concept boutiques

When the Memphis Group presented its first collection at Milan’s Arc’74 Gallery in September 1981, a new design dialogue, one revelling in bold colour, postmodern pizzazz and plastic, and rejecting, functionality, industrialism and the notions of good taste, was born. As 2021 marks the 40th anniversary of the group, founded by Ettore Sottsass and boasting renowned members, including Nathalie Du Pasquier, George Sowden and Shiro Kuramata, a host of institutions are celebrating its signature designs, from Sottsass’ 1981 Carlton room divider, to Peter Shire’s 1982 Bel-Air armchair.

Memphis: 40 Years of Kitsch and Elegance at Vitra Design Museum Gallery kicked off in Feburary 2021, and this week, from May 19-23 June, Saint Laurent is celebrating the prismatic spirit of the Memphis Group across its Rive Droite concept stores in Paris and Los Angeles. The brand’s French outpost opened in autumn 2019, as a way to evolve Saint Laurent’s universe, with eclectic lifestyle pieces to purchase, from brand merchandise to Baccarat glassware, and exhibitions covering art, design and music. These range from a show of African sculptures from Galerie Lucas Ratton to showcases of Helmut Lang’s large-scale totemic artworks.

Memphis Group Bel-Air armchair by Peter Shire

Saint Laurent’s store exhibitions celebrate pieces close to the heart of its artistic director Anthony Vaccarello and include Masanori Umeda’s Tawaraya Ring (1981), a living room piece also beloved by Karl Lagerfeld, who furnished his Monaco apartment with Memphis Group designs in 1983, which was shot for the now shuttered Hamburg-based magazine Mode Und Women. An auction of Lagerfeld’s collection was sold by Sotheby’s in 1991.

In celebration of the Memphis Group milestone, Vaccarello has also designed a capsule collection revelling in its idisyncratic bold prints and patterns. This offering features checkerboard hoodies and colour-blocked high-top sneakers, spliced with animal prints, pinks and oranges. A rare selection of Memphis monographs are also available to purchase, perfect for bibliophiles also entranced by the bolder things in life. §

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