MK Gallery Memphis Selection Rob Harris Image - Daisy Taylor (Bolton & Quinn)

A major survey of the influential 80s design movement Memphis takes place at MK Gallery, Milton Keynes until April 2021.

Memphis was founded by the Italian designer and architect at Ettore Scottsass. It brought together an international collective of young designers united in their desire to inject humour into the design world.

The group debuted its first collection at Milan’s Salone del Mobile in 1981. The collection broke the rules of streamlined modernism and challenged the notions of functionality and good taste.

The exhibition, Memphis: Plastic Field, explores the spirit of the Memphis group by bringing together over 150 of the collective’s most significant works. The group’s bold and playful aesthetic pushed boundaries and sparked a new era in design.

Anthony Spira, director of MK Gallery, said:

“The Memphis group dreamt of shattering the codes of the twentieth century. Their vision was to drop a bomb on the rules of design and renew the language of shapes and colours that make up our environment.

“As a result, Memphis changed the course of design, fashion, architecture, music and film. Founding member Martine Bedin wrote: ‘The same obsession always; can we imagine a new world by drawing another chair, another table, another light, another vase.’

“Following this call-to-action to ‘imagine the a world’. the Memphis group invites us to reconsider, reinvent and rebuild a new visual language for the future.”

Memphis: Plastic Field celebrates the importance of the Memphis Group as a revolutionary moment in the history of design. The Group became synonymous with the boundary pushing postmodernism and garish appeal of the 1980s

Its signature clash of bright colours and synthetic materials was used to produce graphic for MTV, and appeared on the TV shows ‘Saved by the Bell’ and ‘Miami Vice’, as well as the films ‘Ruthless people’ and ‘Back to the Future 2’.

The exhibition at MK Gallery features iconic designs created by the Group between 1981 and 1988. It includes work by Shiro Kuramata, Michelle De Lucchi, Nathalie Du Pasquier, Martine Bedin, George Sowden, Michael Graves, Javier Mariscal, Marco Zanini, Aldo Cibic and Peter Shire.

Memphis: Plastic Field
Until 24 April 2021 (subject to COVID-19 restrictions)
MK Gallery, 900 Midsummer Blvd, Milton Keynes MK9 3QA


Memphis: Plastic Field at ML Gallery is a reinterpretation of the exhibition shown at The Museum of Decorative Arts and Design, Bordeaux (June 2019 to January 2020) and Fondazione Berengo – Palazzo Franchetti, Venice (May to November 2018).

Memphis designers with Masanori Umeda's Tawara…udio Azzurro Image - Daisy Taylor (Bolton & Quinn)