The Italian master Ettore Sottsass once said, ” Memphis is everywhere and for everyone.” Conceived in 1980, during a meeting between Sottsass and a group of other younger designers, who briefly considered calling themselves the New Design. On a whim, when listening to Bob Dylan’s ‘Memphis Blues Again’ – they decided on Memphis.
Irreverent, disconnected, the lack of formality in the name mirrors the group’s deliberately unplanned artistic direction. They re-vindicated that design could just be for fun and adhered to some principles of Pop Art.
But how does this glamourous, pompous way of Italian design have anything to do with the late Nelson Mandela? He was a transformative leader, with extraordinary judgement, who had an unwavering commitment to justice, not just in South Africa but everywhere instinctively. During the same roaring ’80’s, South Africa was still struggling with Apartheid and it was only in 1994 that our country became the democratic nation that we are today.
Memphis designs served as inspiration for the Fall/Winter 2011 – 2012 Christian Dior haute couture collection, and even Karl Lagerfeld collects original pieces which all seems very fickle when put in context. The movement was based on stacking colors, patterns and materials to achieve a totemic quality. The characteristics, or nature of these combinations were unimagined before yet it attracted an enormous amount of attention. Mandela inspired our ‘raindow nation’ where our differences should be celebrated and encouraged.
Good design can have a positive impact on our world, much like the teachings of a great man. I would like to dedicate this collection of objects, bright in color and rich in texture to Nelson Mandela, whose long walk to freedom comes to an end. Rest in peace, Hamba Kahle Tata Madiba.