On November 11, Sotheby's will auction off David Bowie's beautiful collection of Italian designer furniture and other objects, including his incredible 1966 "Radio-Phonograph, Model No. RR126" by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni. The bulk of his collection going on the block though are 1980s pieces of Memphis furniture. Over at Collectors Weekly, Hunter Oatman-Stanford writes about Bowie's deep appreciation for Memphis:
The name “Memphis” was supposedly chosen after an early brainstorming session, during which Bob Dylan’s song “Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again” played repeatedly on the record player. The designers appreciated the word’s disparate connotations, evoking both cheap American kitsch and the regal city of ancient Egypt.
United in their efforts to reject traditional notions of “good design,” the Memphis artists mocked the bland austerity of Modernism by mixing clashing colors, patterns, and materials on playful geometric forms that often masked an object’s intended use. Although their collaborations only lasted a few years—Sottsass left the Memphis group in 1985, and the rest parted ways in 1987—they caused an uproar in the design world. Memphis sensibilities continued trickling into mainstream design via knockoff brands that influenced interiors everywhere from movie sets to high-school cafeterias.
“It didn’t look serious. It looked like a prank,” Bowie wrote of Memphis in 2002. “It mixed Formica attitude with marble diffidence. Bright yellows against turquoise. Virus patterns on ceramics. It couldn’t care less about function.”
"Space Oddity: David Bowie's Secret Obsession With '80s Memphis Design" (Thanks, Ben Marks!)
The Bun Van, designed by Circu, is a bedroom designed to look like a 1960s VW microbus.
The exterior of this piece is made in fiberglass with chrome plated finishes; the inside is made in palisander wood veneer. Inside it contains several storage compartments, a bed, a tv, a secretary, a mini bar and a sofa.
Barcelona design firm Bel & Bel makes chairs out of the front farings of old Vespa scooters, with the option of working turn-signals (no side-mirrors in sight, alas). Read the rest
The DS-600, a modular sofa from Swiss manufacturer De Sede, was designed by U. Berger, E. Peduzzi Riva, H. Ulrich, K. Vogt in 1972, and remains otherworldly and wonderful. Read the rest
We have two 30-year-old poolside chairs. They might be 40 years old. They are excellent metal chairs with adjustable backs. The problem was that the plastic sliders on the bottom of the legs had long ago disintegrated, leaving nothing but bare metal. So, when my wife or kids dragged the chairs across the concrete, the legs would make a brain-curdling screeching sound. I had been thinking about making wooden plugs to stick into the hollow legs like corks, but then I realized I could easily make custom sliders with my 3D printer. Read the rest
Most people will likely put in a computer and use it as a MAME machine, but it comes with one Jamma board for purist action. If the design looks mysteriously familiar, it's because it's the creation of Love Hulten, whose tiny R-Kaid-R graced our pixels last year. [via Uncrate] Read the rest
These human-sized nests are made at the Cape Town Society for the Blind cane furniture factory in South Africa. Designer Porky Hefer collaborates with sightless workers there to make the enormous chairs. Wallpaper* has a great overview of this and other cool work coming out of Africa's design scene. Read the rest
After Xeni posted a photo of one of my cats sleeping on a doll bed, I received an email from Katy Cone, who makes couches for cats. She offered to make a cat couch for me styled on some furniture we have in our house. I sent her this photo:
A couple of weeks later, the couch arrived. Here's Zelda, trying it out:
We've had it for about a week, and Zelda uses it several times a day. My kids want to sit in it, too, but I won't allow it. It's probably sturdy enough to support their weight, but I'm not taking a chance.