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45 years of Design

45 years of design: the ’80s

45 years of design: the ’80s
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Milan, 1980.

An internationally renowned group of Italian and foreign architects and designers is discussing about popular aesthetic customs and design [tolto].

You could feel in the air the rejection to the bourgeois, glossy and reassuring trends of the late Seventies, and the desire for a breakthrough, revolutionary and bold design.

As background music, Bob Dylan’s “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again”, from the album Blonde on Blonde. The radio jams and a loop repeats the verse “with the Memphis Blues Again”.

An enlightment. The Memphis group was born.

The Memphis group inaugurates and strongly influences all the aesthetics and design of the Eighties, by putting together Pop Art, Art Decò, Futurism, Cubist geometries, the kitsch from the Fifties, Kandinsky and the radical post-modernism.

Geometric and often asymmetrical shapes, bright colors, extravagant and original lines, waste or low-value materials, the triumph of plastic.

The initial parody of the high culture made by the Group thus leads to a decisive encounter between high and low culture, between elite trends and popular aspirations. A never-seen before mass aesthetic.

A lively, cheerful, optimistic, warm, fun style, unworried about functionalist implications but very attentive to the aesthetic impact, with an ironic taste.

The desire to take the whole everyday life in its happier, most enjoyable and hedonistic aspects is present and not hidden.

The social, political and economic anxieties of the Seventies had left a bad memory and it was time to leave them behind for good.

New trends, many new youth groups, new sounds. A renewed confidence in the future thanks to the climate of political openness and the introduction of the most innovative technologies to the masses.

Here is the keyword for this decade: mass.

Design objects and products must have the useful strength, attitude, charm and lines to attract the attention of the majority of the consumers.

Time was over for exclusivity, the creation must aspire to be owned by everybody.

Exploring the objects and products of that decade in the Compasso d’Oro ADI archive, we see the Fiat Panda designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, winner of the 1981 Award.

Automotive icon, generational emblem, a family car for the family and at the same time a concrete evocation of the youthful memories of many. In a word, a myth.

The squared and bold lines of Panda characterize another cult design object of this decade too: the additional “Cobra” phone, realized by Pasqui Pasini Associates and winner of the ADI Award in 1987. Original, ergonomic, cool.

The need to communicate takes shape, the conversation becomes a status symbol.

The Tolomeo lamp by Michele De Lucchi, awarded in 1989, stays loyal to its minimal style. A creation born timidly, but which is still produced today in about half a million models every year, for every corner of the world.

Essential shape and versatility are two peculiarities of the Tolomeo lamp, which sums up three keyword of Artemide, the Milanese company that makes it: technology, creativity, humanism.

The Lamp was at the forefront of production technologies of the time, as was our latest object, the inimitable 4870 stackable chair by Anna Castelli Ferrieri for Kartell, awarded with the Compasso d’Oro in 1987.

This is the extraordinary and unprecedented synthesis of aesthetic formalism, use value and technical innovation. Plastic was asking loudly, and with a unique and characteristic style, a legitimate place in design.

In the same way, Gaggia expands its catalog of coffee machines for domestic use with “Baby Re-design”, “Espresso”, “Gran Gaggia”, “Dandy” and “Fantastico”.

 The company integrates stylistic trends and production technologies of the period. The energy of the Eighties influenced also the colors of household appliances, and the espresso machines were no exception. Next to the traditional black and white, there were also brighter shades of yellow, red and blue.

Innovation, flexibility, style and verve, thought once again for the masses, as that glorious decade asked for.

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