Memphis Milano joins Gufram to form new Italian Radical Design group
Memphis Milano and Gufram are two historic brands of radical Italian design, each producing icons that have become part of the collective imagination around the world. Today they are becoming a great reality: the two companies will now be part of Italian Radical Design, a new group founded by the owners of Gufram, Sandra and Charley Vezza, with the aim of “strengthening Italian design brands characterized by a distinctive non-conformist approach”.
Memphis is a movement born in Milan. Between reality and legend, it is said that on the evening of December 11, 1980, gathered in the small house of Ettore Sottsass and Barbara Radice, a group of friends – Michele De Lucchi, Aldo Cibic, Matteo Thun, Marco Zanini and Martine Bedin – between a cigarette and a glass of wine, dreamed of a different design. One that would break the mold and experiment freely. A spinning Bob Dylan record, playing “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again”, caught the band’s attention with the last verse of the chorus. Thus, the nickname of a movement was born.
The creators Nathalie Du Pasquier and George Sowden are also linked to the beginnings of the movement. And over the years, many other notable signings have been created for the brand, including Andrea Branzi, Michael Graves, Arata Isozaki, Shiro Kuramata, Javier Mariscal, Alessandro Mendini and Marco Zanuso.
Ernesto Gismondi, designer and founder of Artemide, was managing director of Memphis Milano before selling the brand to Alberto Bianchi Albrici in 1996. Until this day, Albrici has kept the archives alive with reissues and historical pieces. “I thought of my work as a continuity, with the necessary contribution of a young person who first knew and appreciated the Memphis design movement and its actors, [and who would] stick to his philosophy over the years,” says Albrici. “Charley Vezza dazzled me with his passion and entrepreneurial experience. I am proud to remain involved in this adventure, passing the baton to Charley and his team with the aim of projecting the company into the future.
Vezza has been at the helm of Gufram since 2012, when his family acquired the Italian company known for producing imaginative products under the banner of interculturalism since 1966. As Gufram and Memphis Milano come together under the new Italian Radical Design group, of which Vezza will serve as CEO, the two brands will retain their organizational autonomy.