THE REASON WHY MEMPHIS’ COLORS ARE BACK

di Secondome

It all begun in Memphis: an explosion of color and kitsch graphics that had to break the minimalism’s balance pushing on the pedal of excess. That thread never broke: it rather stood there, toned down, resurfaced in other worlds, such as the fashion one. Today, forty years later, it’s back again into bold set designs which try to get over the walk along the memory lane, bringing back a style that, in the meantime, has become a language capable of connecting design and architecture through the most refined forms of urban art.

Sasha Bikoff | Kips Bay Decorator Show House

The zig-zag, the pois, the doodles, the pyramidal triangles, are all back in the Sasha Bikoff project for the Kips Bay Decorator Show House, the stairs of a New York building that, every year since 1973 have been given to a different interior designer for a charity project meant to raise funds for after-school activities for kids in New York. Birkoff’s idea is a genuine dream in technicolor, a breathtaking vertigo filled with hints to Italian post-modernism that the American designer is in love with. And it might not be a case that the studio ilmiodesign, that signed the Paradise Ibiza Art Hotel, with a color palette inspired by Ettore Sottsass, is Italian (and Spanish). A hotel that goes back up to Memphis with a very specific objective in mind: the “instagrammability” of both interiors and outoor spaces.

Camille Walala | Paradise hotel 

The spectacularity of the images and their being so photogenic has, indeed, given a huge push forward to the comeback of Memphis colors as well as the ones from Art Deco. If the value of an interior project is measured, and like it or not, that’s how it’s now, also and especially by its performance online, than the irreverent, playful and ironic palettes from the Eighties are perfect to leave a sign. Even better if mixed with signs that refer, for one, to the Ndebele tribe from South Africa and the art of Victor Vasarely, as in certain powerful and magnificent artworks by Camille Walala. She’s probably the designer who more than anyone is strongly bringing back Memphis’ codes trying, at the same time, to cross the boundaries of bare memory and homage.

Walala’s trait is unmistakable: an optical and psychedelic sign that mixes different influences. To define this France born creative, who works, from London, all over the world (she even had a collaboration with Armani for a marketing campaign) a graphic designer, is reductive to say the least: her interventions are reinterpretations of the space through design, graphic and architecture, mixed to create a result where it’s impossible to isolate the single component and you can only see the whole picture.

Camille Walala | Tanzanian village

And this is true for a boutique hotel in Mauritius, as well as a whole village in Tanzania or for an intervention of the artist on the face of a former factory in Brooklyn. Hence, the best homage that can be given to a master is not to simply reprise his language, but bringing it in your own time. Even better, looking forward to the future.