How I added a ‘Memphis lite’ element to my home

Memphis style tealights (c) ellasplace.co.uk

Last summer I went to the Pick Me Up show at Somerset House. Every year the show features a fresh line-up of artists and designers who are considered to reflect the best of new illustration, graphic design and related disciplines. It’s a great event for picking up on trends.

Almost every item in the 2015 show was influenced by the Memphis Group, an Italian design and architecture collective founded in Milan by Ettore Sottsass in 1981 that designed Postmodern furniture, fabrics, ceramics, glass and metal objects from 1981 to 1987. Since the show I can’t seem to pick up a magazine or visit an interiors site without reading a reference to this group. This style is big in 2016, so if you’re new to Memphis style take a look at my Pinterest board to familiarise yourself with it.

I must confess that it’s taken me a little while to embrace this particular look – I was a child in the 1980s so anything from that era has to work extra hard to win my favour. However the Memphis look is fresh, playful, fun and actually very easy to incorporate into interiors and crafts projects. It also, even 30 plus years on, looks surprisingly contemporary. You can go all out with it or incorporate little elements of this style to give your home or craft creations a quirky, on-trend edge.

So starting softly, I took Ettore Sottsas’ iconic Letraset design, as seen below, as an inspiration for a quick interiors update.

‘Letraset’ textile design by Ettore Sottsas

It’s a wonderfully simple, effective design that works well as a standalone pattern but can look fab  layered over different shades. It’s also great at different sizes.

Memphis style tealights (c) ellasplace.co.uk

I used this Letraset pattern as a ‘Memphis lite’ starting point to update some funky tea-light holders as a gift for my lounge. I got these little shot glasses from a charity shop and they are perfect lanterns for my tea-lights. However, left plain, I felt they were rather stark.

Memphis style tealights (c) ellasplace.co.uk
I used black permanent marker (the Memphis Group use a lot of black) to very loosely apply a similar pattern over the glasses. I wanted to play with the scale of the motifs to make the lanterns more varied and create interest when they were arranged together. I literally did this while I was watching telly one evening, and I’m pleased that this easy make made me think more about the Memphis Group’s work and has spurred me on to check it out further.

Memphis style tealights (c) ellasplace.co.uk

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