MEMPHIS PLASTIC FIELD
MK Gallery, 21 November 2020 – 24 April 2021

MK Gallery, 900 Midsummer Blvd, Milton Keynes MK9 3QA
Designer: Various Designers

The immersive exhibition dedicated to the Memphis group, “Memphis: Plastic Fields”, after Venice and Bordeaux, continues its journey and arrives in the United Kingdom at the MK Gallery, an exhibition space inspired by the unique history of Milton Keynes, designed by renowned architects 6a in collaboration with artists Gareth Jones and Nils Norman.

Memphis: Plastic Field (21 November 2020 – 24 April 2021), will explore the subversive and irreverent spirit of the Memphis Group, bringing together over 150 of the design collective’s most significant objects whose bold and playful look pushed boundaries and sparked a new era in International design.

Their furniture was colourful, kitsch and geometric, drawing on Pop Art, Bauhaus and Art Deco to create an entirely new aesthetic full of punch and vitality. The sensory quality of the object was prioritised over function. Materials like plastic laminate and Terrazzo, previously used in kitchens and bathrooms, were suddenly incorporated into high-end furniture, and monochrome patterns of graphic shapes and squiggly lines paired with vivid yellow became an instant Memphis trademark.

Founded by Italian designer and architect Ettore Sottsass, Memphis brought together an international collective of young designers united in their desire to inject humour into the design world and shatter the codes of the 20th century. When the group debuted its first collection at Milan’s Salone del Mobile in 1981 it caused a sensation, breaking the rules of streamlined modernism and challenging notions of functionality and good taste.

Memphis changed the course of design, fashion, architecture, music and film. Founding Memphis 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 a new world’, the Memphis group invites us to reconsider, reinvent, and rebuild a new visual language for the future. 

The exhibition at MK Gallery will feature the iconic designs created by the Memphis Group between 1981 – 1988, including work by important contributors such as Shiro Kuramata, Michele De Lucchi, Nathalie Du Pasquier, Martine Bedin, George Sowden, Michael Graves, Javier Mariscal, Marco Zanini, Aldo Cibic and Peter Shire.

Memphis: Plastic Field at MK Gallery is a reinterpretation of the exhibition shown at the The Museum of Decorative Arts and Design, Bordeaux 21 June 2019 to 05 January 2020 and Fondazione Berengo – Palazzo Franchetti, Venice 24 May to 25 November 2018. The exhibition is produced in partnership with Memphis srl, Milano with exhibition design by IB Studio, Milan (Architects Isabella Invernizzi & Beatrice Bonzanigo).

With thanks to the Memphis Exhibition Circle including Oscar Humphries and those who wish to remain anonymous