18 May - 12 September 2021

Admission by timed entry ticket. You are welcome to arrive at anytime within your allocated hour and stay for as long as you like. During busy times you may be asked to wait a short time before entering the galleries to improve visitor flow.

Book tickets here.

‘With their boldness, bright colours and cartoon demeanour, Memphis provided the board and pieces to play the game of life…’ -Financial Times

'... a luscious feast of eye-searing colours, polished synthetic surfaces and clashing patterns, executed with brash, swaggering brilliance...' -The Guardian

Memphis: Plastic Field  explores the subversive and irreverent spirit of the Memphis Group, bringing together over 150 of the design collective’s most significant objects whose bold and playful look pushed boundaries and sparked a new era in International design.

Their furniture was colourful, kitsch and geometric, drawing on Pop Art, Bauhaus and Art Deco to create an entirely new aesthetic full of punch and vitality. The sensory quality of the object was prioritised over function. Materials like plastic laminate and Terrazzo, previously used in kitchens and bathrooms, were suddenly incorporated into high-end furniture, and monochrome patterns of graphic shapes and squiggly lines paired with vivid yellow became an instant Memphis trademark.

Founded by Italian designer and architect Ettore Sottsass, Memphis brought together an international collective of young designers united in their desire to inject humour into the design world and shatter the codes of the 20th century. When the group debuted its first collection at Milan’s Salone del Mobile in 1981 it caused a sensation, breaking the rules of streamlined modernism and challenging notions of functionality and good taste.

Memphis changed the course of design, fashion, architecture, music and film. Founding Memphis member Martine Bedin wrote: “The same obsession always; can we imagine a new world by drawing another chair, another table, another light, another vase.” Following this call to action to ‘imagine a new world’, the Memphis group invites us to reconsider, reinvent, and rebuild a new visual language for the future. 

The exhibition at MK Gallery will feature the iconic designs created by the Memphis Group between 1981 – 1988, including work by important contributors such as Shiro Kuramata, Michele De Lucchi, Nathalie Du Pasquier, Martine Bedin, George Sowden, Michael Graves, Javier Mariscal, Marco Zanini, Aldo Cibic and Peter Shire.

'Memphis: Plastic Field' at MK Gallery is a reinterpretation of the exhibition shown at the The Museum of Decorative Arts and Design, Bordeaux 21 June 2019 to 05 January 2020 and Fondazione Berengo – Palazzo Franchetti, Venice 24 May to 25 November 2018. The exhibition is produced in partnership with Memphis srl, Milano with exhibition design by IB Studio, Milan (Architects Isabella Invernizzi & Beatrice Bonzanigo).

With thanks to the Memphis Exhibition Circle including Oscar Humphries and those who wish to remain anonymous

Admission prices

Members: Free 

Adult: £9.35 with Gift Aid / £8.50 standard

Concessions (students with NUS or similar proof, unwaged with proof of universal credit or similar, disabled) : £8.25 with Gift Aid / £7.50 standard

Under 26s: Free (proof of age may be requested)

Carers: Free 

Local residents*: Free every Tuesday and every Sunday in August. 

Art Fund Pass: £4.68 with Gift Aid  / £4.25 standard

*Please provide valid ID on arrival. For the local residents offer please show photo ID and proof of residence at the Information Desk. 

Postcodes for free resident entry on Tuesdays: MK1, MK2, MK3, MK4, MK5, MK6, MK7, MK8, MK9, MK10, MK11, MK12, MK13, MK14, MK15, MK16, MK17, MK19, MK46, MK77