Exploring Memphis Design – A Style that Makes a Comeback

May 14, 2024

Memphis design style emerged a long time ago but is now staging a comeback and increasingly used by designers, including Indonesia. This style has been popular since the 1980s and initiated by a group called Memphis.

The article will provide you with more details about this reemerging style. As well as its background and how to combine it with different types of designers’ work.


memphis design


History of Memphis Group

Foremost, we need to know the founder of this eccentric style. He is Ettore Sottsass, an Italian designer, who spreaded it since 1981. The group was being formed while Bob Dylan’s song was playing.

The song was repeatedly played on their first meeting which was decided later, to use Memphis as the group name.

Their second meeting was in February of the same year, 1981. Each member created about 100 images which consist of combination images with different thickness and colorful design with different style adaptation.

Since the group was formally established, they produced more works. From furniture to clothes, patterns, products, ceramics and more. Countless subs of designers’ professions can adopt this memphis design to their works.

Postmodern style that blended with kitsch style in the 1950 mostly came in Pop Art and Art Deco, too. This style’s characteristics were bright neon colors, pastels and primary colors, geometric shapes as well as clashing and repeated patterns.

This style was initially considered rebelling the existing designs. Most conventional disciples are against them, making this innovative style receive a lot of critiques.

Nevertheless, we can now recognize that some changes made by the Memphis designers group were advantageous to many of the design needs, now and then. In 1970, Memphis design was finally at the peak of its popularity.

The style was then getting more popular in the early 1980 and being one of a timeless design. Unfortunately, history notes the Memphis group disbanded in 1987 yet its influence is seen on today’s works.

Such as, a collaboration of one of its ex-member, Nathalie Du Pasquier, with a Denmark company named HAY to create Memphis-inspired products. Even the worldwide brands like Dior and Missoni also adapt it.


Breaking the Conventional Style Known for Its Characteristics

Memphis design style is famous for its bright colors compositions, geometric shapes, repeating patterns and primary and pastel colors.

Innovation brought by the Memphis group was refreshing and breaking the previous conventional design style concept, which was too dark at that time. When Memphis design appeared in 1980, the graphic design then had a new color.

Despite the different opinions, this style has proven its huge influence till today.

This design still presents new colors in contemporary performance through patterns, textures, font colors and posters with trademarks, as well as various bold colors composition to serve prominent features for the audiences.


Ways to Apply Memphis Style to a Design

Adapting this iconic style to your project is something a beginner designer would try or curious about. 

You can start from creating geometric shapes and repeating the design element patterns. The shape could be anything from lines, triangles, circles or squares. Then do them all over again to accentuate the memphis design.

Next, use pastel color pallets to soften the tone and you will have a refreshing memphis style, regardless of being used frequently. Add shape or repeating design elements in lower transparency as background to beautify your design.

Sans serif font is one of the best choices to make your design effortlessly interesting and reviving.

For more appealing and out of the box design, try combining the memphis design with other different styles. Such as, retro style blends with repeating style that we have discussed before. 

The final result, however, heavily relies on their proper combinations and compositions. You can find more available references to inspire you to do the designers’ works.


Some Examples of Memphis Design Applications

You should see how this design was being applied to different fields to have a better understanding. We have collect some examples for your references, such as :

Background Design

Applying memphis design for a background might be one of the best ideas. For instance, triangle patterns with numerous color gradients and shapes would be the perfect background compared to others.  

Different Types of Media Design

This design also works well on all types of media, such as book cover, album cover and your website landing page.

Texture Combination

It is also possible to combine some colors at once to create a visually attractive texture.


Known since the 1980s, this style too is for lettering. Its color gradients present the best visualization which can elevate the beauty by adjusting the color compositions that shape the letters’ patterns.


If you are interested in creating one similar design, you need to search for more references. Doing more practice would also develop your skill, getting you into a faster and more efficient work habit.

This style design has reached its peak since the 1980s and challenged the dark conventional designs. Nevertheless, people still show their interest upon memphis design which surprisingly is vulnerable to use for different types or products.

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