Following on from what has proved to be a very popular article on the Memphis design movement I would like take a to look at how it has influenced modern design in specific areas – in this edition, Memphis inspired clocks.
During the short life of the movement, Memphis members experimented with bright colors, shapes and materials. This approach to design was in many ways a protest against the dark colors and sleek minimalist design of the 1970s. While the designs of the Memphis group divide opinion, one thing is certain, it reflects 1980’s kitsch and whilst not always generally accepted as tasteful, the Memphis look was certainly ground breaking. Over time the Memphis group have influenced many design disciplines from graphics and fashion to products, interiors and textiles.
As a designer, I have always liked the idea of clocks being more than just a mere time telling object. I see clocks as objects which need to be more design led and sculptural, and tasteful of course. Memphis visionaries such as George Sowden designed interesting clocks, some of which may be deemed ornamental and grandiose and would certainly be a focal point of any interior.
Items such as these are now design classics and are highly sought after by collectors such as Dennis Zanone.
As design influence is cyclical, it is quite easy to spot products showing the influence of Memphis design.
Here are a few examples of Memphis influenced clock designs, beginning with Steepletone; this UK company which normally makes small radios produced an alarm clock which builds heavily on the shapes and colours prevalent in Memphis designs: from the graphics of the face with its simple lines and large hands to the yellow shapes used as features on the tilted body.
The Canetti Design group have produced various designs over the years yet I have picked out the following two products for their contrast in styles, both of which are clear influenced by elements of Memphis design, from the abstract shapes and colors of Design One to the simplicity of the metal wall clock shown as Design Two.
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Moga Clocks have produced a range of colorful products such as this example with its simple clock hands that stand out from the often busy patterns and contrasting colors. The style is certainly influenced by the 80s yet would, I feel, not look at all out of place within a more contemporary interior environment.
If you own any item influenced by Memphis design or have your own clock from the era, please let me know.
Books on Memphis Design
|Memphis: Research, Experiences, Results, Failures, and Successes of New Design||Memphis: Objects, Furniture and Patterns|
Mod to Memphis: Design in Colour, 1960S-80s
Ettore Sottsass: Minimum Design
About Paolo Feroleto
Designer of the ItalyChronicles.com logo, Paolo Feroleto is a design hound who sniffs out all things design and writes about the best of what he tracks down here on ItalyChronicles.com.
A designer of Italian origins, Paolo has over 13 years industry experience obtained from working in mixed discipline design studios in the UK and abroad.
Paolo has worked with a range of clients – from small independent retailers, to large blue chip companies. His projects have included building corporate identity, designing literature, creating stands for exhibitions, as well as devising graphics for retail outlets and websites. Examples from Paolo’s portfolio can be found on his website, here: Four Design, where Paolo can also be contacted.
Paolo also teaches Graphic Design and develops creative discovery workshops for educational and professional environments.