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Strange fascination: a deep dive into the design life of a musical icon

Much more than just a musician, David Bowie was a true polymath - a lover of design, architecture, fashion and photography.

22. 03. 24

We’re inspired by David Bowie's ability to find inspiration everywhere, valuing creativity and challenging the status quo.

And the planets seemed to align this month with photography, furniture design, books and new(ish) music on offer - a real feast for Bowie fans.

London's Fitzrovia Chapel was first on our agenda - worth a visit in its own right, the Grade II*-listed building was once the chapel of the former Middlesex Hospital and is now beautifully preserved and restored. The stunning hidden gem in the heart of the city has been home to A London Day - an exhibition of photographs by Kevin Davies, capturing David Bowie over the course of a single day in 1992. Curated by journalist, author, cultural historian and Bowie fan, Dylan Jones, the exhibition features 20 photographs from across the day and reveals a timeless Bowie in his prime.

Credit: Roger Woolman

Known primarily for his music, Bowie was also recognised as a creative force in a wider sense, with a real passion for design in all its forms, from fashion to furniture. Most were unaware of his infatuation with the work of Memphis Milano - an Italian design and architecture group founded in the 1980s by Ettore Sottsass.

Writing on Memphis in 2002, Bowie said, “It didn’t look serious. It looked like a prank. It mixed Formica attitude with marble diffidence. Bright yellows against turquoise. Virus patterns on ceramics. It couldn’t care less about function.”

The group's work often incorporated plastic laminate and terrazzo materials, characterised by colourful designs, abstract and geometrical shapes that rejected the bland austerity of Modernism.

After his death, the scale of his collection of Memphis furniture became clear, with over 100 items auctioned at Sotheby's in 2016. The influence of the group's design aesthetic has continued to touch everything from film sets and furniture to fashion.

Memphis Milano

Memphis Milano

We've found a few Memphis-inspired pieces in our collection - the bold colour, geometric designs and playful details aren’t exact dupes but they’re a great way to add some personality and off-beat style to a hotel, restaurant, bar or other commercial interior.

The Sushi Modular Sofa allows endless combinations to suit your space. The voluminous curves create an inviting feel, making it perfect for student areas, hotel lobbies and offices.

Sushi Modular Sofa

The Pad Modular Sofa is a perfect choice for a hotel lobby, study area or lounge space. The wide range of modules allows you to pick and choose which pieces suit your needs - upholstered in your choice of fabric, leather or faux leather, we love the exaggerated curves and sleek powder-coated metal frame.

Pad Modular Sofa

Punchy block colours and cut-out geometric shapes make the La Isla Coffee Table a fun choice for a contemporary interior. We love the streamlined base, inspired by the shape of a blade, and the retro smoked glass top.

La Isla Coffee Table

The Apps Lounge Chair has a playful feel, with rounded corners and a chunky cuboid structure. We love the ability to use contrasting fabric colours and textures to upholster this piece - a great way to make a style statement.

Apps Lounge Chair

Apps Lounge Chair

The Float Sofa is designed by Karim Rashid - the leading industrial designer once worked with Ettore Sottsass, founder of the Memphis Group, so it’s perhaps no surprise that this piece includes the neon colours and statement silhouette so reminiscent of the group’s designs in the 1980s.

This contemporary couch works well in a range of interiors - its slim floating seat with incorporated back wall provides complete privacy in open spaces and it’s available in three sizes with a choice of low or high backs.

Float Sofa

To keep up to date with our latest collection and new additions to our contract furniture range, join our mailing list and look out for our regular email newsletters, or follow us on Instagram.

Main image courtesy of Memphis Milano.

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