[Memphis] had been investigating a new expressiveness of objects—objects that, like animals in the Amazon, were able to attract their partner through color, perfume, and decor. They didn't try to interest everyone. They were experimental, artisanal prototypes.
Living With Memphis
Memphis only lasted six years, yet the radical design collective made a lasting impact on the field of design. Memphis challenged the aesthetics of Modernism and, as Aldo Cibic explains, “reset everything design had seen before”.
Identifiable and bold, Memphis designs found their way onto movie sets and into the homes of forward-thinking and creative luminaries such as Karl Lagerfeld, whose Monaco penthouse was bursting with the bold designs that he acquired directly from Ettore Sottsass and David Bowie who collected Memphis alongside important modern and postmodern art. Memphis also found its way into retail establishments such as Macy's and Bloomingdale's and in the years since its introduction, museum collections across the globe.
Dennis Zanone first saw the work of Memphis in 1984 during its first American tour and over the past several decades, he amassed an impressive collection that rivals the depth and breadth of Lagerfeld’s and is the largest since the fashion designer’s, which sold at Sotheby's in 1991. Zanone has lived with Memphis and is a champion of the movement. The incredible group of works offered in this sale has been extensively researched and was the basis of the 2014 Memphis-Milano: 1980s Italian Design exhibition at The Dixon Museum.
Andrea Branzi b. 1938
Andrea Branzi is a lauded designer, architect and artist, known for being a co-founder of Domus Academy, the first international post-graduate program for design, a founding member of the avant-garde design group Archizoom Associati, as well as a member of both Studio Alchimia and Memphis. His current design practice continues the radical considerations of these postmodern movements, incorporating contemporary modes of assemblage, irreverence, subtlety and sensitivity to materials.
Born in 1938 in Florence, Branzi studied at the Florence School of Architecture, graduating in 1966—the same year he co-founded Archizoom. Along with another radical design collective, Superstudio, Archizoom created poetic, bratty and pop-inflected furniture and objects for the company Poltronova from 1966 to 1973. Studio Alchimia, which Branzi joined in 1976, continued this experimental, boundary-pushing approach, using it to challenge traditions of industrial production and historicism. Upon joining Memphis in 1980, Branzi created structural, moody furniture that typified the more high-minded, austere design aesthetics of the decade (in contrast to the busy and bright look usually associated with Memphis).
Branzi established his own design studio in 1982, turning his attention to urban planning, architecture and interior design. He has worked with such companies as Vitra, Cassina, Sevres, Artemide and Alessi. In 1983 he helped establish Domus Academy. His studio’s first signature design was the Animali Domestici furniture line, made up of one-of-a-kind and limited edition pieces that combined natural materials with recognizable modern design forms to create surrealistic mash-ups that supersedes the modernist insistence of orderliness and functionalism.
In 2008, Branzi was designated an Honorary Royal Designer in the United Kingdom and his designs are held in such prominent collections as the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. He has been awarded the prestigious Compass d’Oro three times and most recently headed the School of Interior Design, Milan, before retiring in 2009. Branzi continues to live and work in Milan.