‘Memphis is the great cultural phenomenon of the '80s that has revolutionized the creative and commercial logic of the design world. Created on the initiative of Ettore Sottsass and a group of young Milanese architects and designers, shortly to be joined by some of the most famous names on the international design scene, Memphis overturned all the existing preconceptions around the idea of "living". With Ettore Sottsass as the backbone of the group, Memphis abolished the creative limits previously dictated by the industry, and Design assumed a new expressivity in the form of new shapes, materials and patterns.’

Having been born in the late seventies I lived through the 80’s and 90’s as a tween/teenager.  There were so many influential musicians of the time and the look can be summed up for me in a few names Cindy Lauper, Madonna, Michael Jackson and Prince.  It’s my least favorite time in fashion which was really the only thing that I was concerned about around then.

Nathalie du Pasquier, Memphis Group, Royal Sofa 1983

Glam, neon colours, bold and often clashing abstract patterns, we all have a memory of ‘design’ that stands out for us from that era. While I never thought I would circle back around to it in my own work I am, surprisingly, and it’s all due to the recent resurgence of the popular ‘Memphis Group’.

This short lived Italian design collective debuted their first collection of furniture and design objects in 1981 at the Salone de Mobile in Milan.  Their work was characterized by colourful, busy decorations and exaggerated asymmetrical shapes.  Founded by Italian architect, designer Ettore Sottsass and inspired by Art Deco, Bauhaus and Pop Art of the time the group was active until 1988 although their style only became popular internationally in the 90’s.

Ettore Sottsass, Memphis Group, Carlton Room Divider, 1981

My upcoming spring collection is very much inspired by the bold colour blocking and busy patterns of this time.  In the studio I’ve been working on some pattern ‘mash-ups’ of the LOTSA series and breaking out of my colour ‘shell’ to explore a palette of turmeric, dusty pink, gold and brick red.  My colour selection is still very much in line with my African aesthetic and influenced by the painted houses of the Ndebele people in South Africa – more to come about that.

Natalie Gerber, LOTSA Mash-Up, 2017


For more on the Mephis Group visit