POSTMODERNISM IS SO NOW! – LIKE IT OR NOT

Just the other day, the Ladylanders got into some debate over current design trends, one of which appears to be the re-emergence of Postmodernism. And to be honest I, for one, am still not sure how I feel about it.

Having studied design at uni, it’s easy for me to identify many of the direct references from this new (but old!) movement, which was at its frenzied height in the 1980s. As an aesthetic, it’s hard to describe, but if you imagine a clash of zig zags, dots, wobbly lines, geometric shapes, bright colours and a 1980s L’Oreal Hair Advert, you kind of have the vibe. It’s bright, clashy and, no matter how I feel about it, it’s already back in a BIG way.

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Back in the 80s, the champions of this movement back were the Milan-based Memphis Group and, in particular, the groups’ pioneer, Ettore Sottsass. The Group’s work was influential and polarising even then. Memphis was inspired by a few converging influences: Art Deco, Pop Art, and the emerging postmodernism which would come to pervade everything from furniture to film to music during the 1980s and early 1990s. The signature Memphis piece combined asymmetric and geometric shapes from a variety of materials in bright, contrasting colours. Graphic patterns, usually in black and white, also covered many pieces. At the time it was a striking departure from the understated modern design that had been around for decades.

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Ettore Sottsass, Carlton Room Divider, 1981. Plastic laminate.

What’s interesting is when I revisit the images and furniture from this movement, everything about it just screams 1980s! When you see images of Dennis Zanones personal collection you get a sense of how much of a sensory and frenetic overload a room full of Memphis furniture would be.

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Dennis Zanones private collection in his home

I must admit, part of me initially felt apprehensive about this resurgence of a trend I was somehow taught to avoid – as it was the last big design movement when I was at art college in the LATE 1990s – but another part of me finds it refreshing that there’s been an injection of colour and fun back into design again. So now it’s here to stay a while, I’m going to embrace it and get on the bandwagon to pick my favourites from the contemporary crop!

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1. We’re big fans of Camille Walala at Ladyland – she is truly out to lift spirits with her amazing creations. The Walala Dream come True Building Print 5 is on my new must-have list. I especially love what she has done to the facade of Georgina’s House or her Happy House!

georginas happy house

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2. Edge of Home’s plates and cushions are a perfect combination of traditional and contemporary styles, available from another Ladyland favourite online boutique, Plinth.

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3. Dark Room has been championing this style for a while now; you could get some So Sotsass fabric cushions as a backdrop to its Studiopepe Kora Vase.

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4. Nathalie Du Pasquier (a founding member of the Memphis Group movement) has designed a set of fabrics and accessories for HAY. I love this ‘Tongues’ tote bag.

5. The Bench No.84 is a perfect contemporary example of the post modern trend by Kelly Behun Studio.

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6. My dream object in the 1980s was a Boombox, so I’m loving this colourful cardboard version.

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7. The other collection by Nathalie Du Pasquier I’m coveting was created last year for American Apparel it’s still available if you’re quick, this Kaya print Rayon jumpsuit is my favourite!