It wasn’t just the grand weather in London last week. Sunshine, lollipops, and rainbow colors characterized a lot of what was on show throughout the city, from the V&A’s tinted crystal “Zotem” totem by Norwegian designer Kim Thomé, to Selgas Cano’s trippy pavilion at the Serpentine Gallery. Unless you were stranded at 100% Norway–the extravaganza of brass, wood, and trendy pastels inside the Tent London exhibition–it was near impossible to miss that London was trumped up like a Fiorucci shop circa 1983.
Two high-profile launches brought Europe’s current fascination with the 1980s Memphis design movement to the fore. At Aria, a multi-story concept shop in genteel Islington, graphic artist Camille Walala sprinkled the façade with “confetti” and plastered the windows in royal blue-and-mint stripes. Window dressers used her new range of ceramics, cushions, furniture, and lighting to create a scene that brought back memories of Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” music video.
A mile away, at the shoebox boutique of young designer Lee Broom—you know his famous beveled “crystal” lightbulbs—I overheard one shopper exclaim to her friend, “That was design heaven.” This is because Broom had staged his new collection of glass and marble vases among lipstick-red geometric seating and chrome ziggurat tables. Among them were upholstered plinths made to look like beds of red roses, and bunches of gladiolsa hanging upside down from the ceiling.
Peeking into this window and that, you’d find Memphis member Nathalie du Pasquier’s exuberant upholsteries for Wrong for Hay; Do Shop’s color-block Lucis chairs by Samuel Connolly; and Christian Astuguevilleille’s primary-colored, rope-wrapped Ilor and Louxac stools for the new Holly Hunt shop. Then, at the massive maze of an exhibition that is Design Junction, New York artist Jon Burgerman (whose favorite pattern is the manic Rainbow Scrawl graffiti) signed Doodlegraphs for the launch of their collaboration Kirkby Design x Jon Burgerman, a range of jubilant, child-like fabrics inspired by Memphis and Keith Haring. It was an obvious rejection of the monochrome and metallics that dominated last year’s festival, and an embracing of youth and naivete in design.
Those were the highlights. But at Design Junction, DesignersBlock, and every craft and product market in between, there was a sense that Memphis had been dragged into the mainstream. Jewellery designers used primary colors in geometric shapes on Perspex pendants; lighting designers combined them in wackadoo lights. I get the feeling that by this time next year, Memphis might be descending into the blues.
So what’s next? At 100% Design, Gemma Riberti, a trend forecaster from WGSN, spoke about iridescence, metalized colors, ombré, and “high-octane, saturated tones.” Yet the paint-maker Dulux went one further with an exhibition was all fall hues and earth tones: tans, golds, Navajo reds, and sky blues (you can get the whole story in its 2016 Color Futures guide, available online).