Murdered by Memphis

I laughed when the last edition of WOTH arrived in the mail. My nightmare, Memphis, which I referred to briefly, was present in all its hysterical colourfulness. Neon: check. Salmon pink: check. Turquoise: check. Finished off with black, white and a hint of gold.

The pièce de résistance, Ettore Sottsass’s famous mirror, all alone on a page of its own . . .

I grew up in the 1980s, when this trend was at its height.

I wanted to wear neon, black-and-white with pink or turquoise. And I wasn’t averse to extravagance due to my love for Madonna. In short: you’d think that I’d instantly fall in love with Memphis.


My loving mother, who opened an art gallery during that same period, was. In love with Memphis, I mean.

And that resulted in an overdose of Memphis.

I got a Memphis rug (anthracite with neon figures . . .)

Salmon pink chairs with homemade silk pillows in turquoise.

A black lamp with a steel structure, arching over a side-cube my mom marbled herself. It housed my record collection. I had two cubes, marbled in turquoise and gold with a hint of Yves Klein blue mixed in.

And that’s just what I can remember.

The living room, the hallway, the furniture, the art: nothing, and I mean nothing, escaped my mom’s marbled, black, white, salmon pink, gold and turquoise touch. Except for my dad.

I was 8 when I decided I was a fan of Bauhaus.

And 28 when I was placed at the table next to the man who caused my nightmare: Michele de Lucchi.


'Be careful with the Memphis revival. It could inspire irreversible minimalistic tendencies in your children.'




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During the Hong Kong Business of Design Week, the man had spoken about his current state of being. He lived on a farm in the countryside and attacked tree trunks naked (yes, he had pictures, which he shamelessly showed during his presentation). Something completely different from the totally shallow and plastic look and feel of Memphis.

But let’s get back to that dining table.

As befitting of a charming Italian, he kindly inquired who I was, what I did and if I knew of his work. With a stutter I told him that I knew of his work . . . that it had traumatized me and inspired my love for Bauhaus. De Lucchi started sniggering, nodded and asked what had happened.

I told him about the overdose.

‘Why do you think I attack tree trunks naked,’ De Lucchi laughed.

‘It was toooooo much, way too much.’ 

His confession was a relief, but I have a message for today’s design lovers: Be careful with the Memphis revival. It could inspire irreversible minimalistic tendencies in your children!


by Eva Olde Monnikhof
Director of AVL-Mundo Atelier Van Lieshout



This production was published in WOTH No5. This issue is still available in english via Bruil & van der StaaijOr get a subscription here!

Dutch versions of WOTH can be ordered in our shop and an NL subscription is available here.