When we set out to create a new work of art, we look everywhere for inspiration, including the past. Certain eras of art and design evoke a desired feeling and message, offering a foundation upon which we can build something new. As time progresses, advancements in technology, the ever-changing values of each new generation, and modern takes on design allow us to apply brand new perspectives to old ideas. In this way, even when we repurpose concepts from the past, we often end up with totally fresh and original design.

Take, for example, Memphis design. The Memphis Group was a design and architecture firm established in 1980, whose goal was to challenge the neutral and functional Modernism, which was very popular at the time. This new style of design, which came to be known as Memphis, offered geometric, unexpected shapes, and vibrant color palettes as an alternative to the more reserved design trends. The Memphis Group was inspired by the Art Deco movement of the 1920s and the Pop Art movement of the 1960s. By combining these two design eras, in addition to the perspectives of those living in the 80s, a brand-new artistic movement was born.

Though this movement was founded in the 80s, it wasn’t until the 90s that this style was widely embraced, and Memphis took on a new look as it became influenced more by 90s trends. Not only did Memphis design start by looking to the past, but since the end of The Memphis Group in 1987, there have been several revivals of Memphis design itself, each of which has injected a newer, more modern take on this bold, playful style. Although each new artistic movement has been inspired by what came before it, reimagining the past means that the old can always be new again.

Sources: Jakob N. Layman, Andy Warhol, Katarzyna Nastaszyc, Wikimedia Commons

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