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17 Ways to Introduce this Trending Pattern into Your Home

by on May 29, 2018

Selection from the Unmagic Eye Exhibition by Spencer Harrison and Billie Justice Thomson; Photo by Bri Hammond

The home decor world is operating mostly in throwback-mode right now. What used to be tacky is now tasteful, and looking dated doesn’t matter as much. Walk into any big box store like Target, West Elm, or CB2, and you’ll see interpretations of designs and color schemes that originally surfaced over 30-40 years ago. From the resurgence of treatments like terrazzo to the re-introduction of wicker, what’s old is new again. If you’re like me, you’ve noticed a familiar pattern pop up. And if you’re like me, it’s making you gleefully reminiscent. I’m talking about the bold and bright world of Memphis design, and its colorful impact on the 80s and 90s.                 

You may know it as “that squiggly  pattern that was popular in the 80s…” which truthfully was what I was googling before I figured out what it was called. Memphis design refers to the loud, intentional, pattern-heavy motif that first popped up in 1981. While I was not a child of the 80s, I reaped the rewards of the Memphis styling that trickled down into the 90s. Without that first breakaway from mid-century stiffness, would we ever have gotten to enjoy the Jazz cup design? Probably not. And it’s doubtful I would’ve ever owned a Caboodle in such lovely teal and purple hues. Memphis made a huge impact on making the 90s feel so… 90s… and in true trend fashion, this design has made its circle back into the spotlight.

Memphis Design From FreePix
A classic example of Memphis design | Source: FreePix

If worm-like lines and dauntless angles have you reminiscing about days past, here’s a list of 17 ways to bring this pattern into your home. And since all of us who enjoyed the 80s and 90s the first time around are millennials, all these products and projects are only temporary transformations – as none of us can crawl out of our student debt to afford to own our own homes and we’re all still renting. ¯_(“)_/¯

Bedding by designer Ellen Van Dusen
Source: Dusen Dusen

1. Dusen Dusen, founded by designer Ellen Van Dusen, is your one-stop home textiles shop for bright colors and bold patterns. This cutouts bedding speaks to the definitive squiggles and shapes of the Memphis-design, while still remaining neutral. 


Ceramics by Quiet Clementine
Source: Quiet Clementine

2. These patterned ceramic mini planters lightly touch on the playful patterns of Memphis design. How cute! You should check out this Arkansas-based artist’s other work if you’re into all things fun and colorful.


DIY Memphis-style planters by A Kailo Chic Life
Project via A Kailo Chic Life

3. If you are looking to reminisce about your childhood while staying on budget, then here’s a cute DIY project! These 80s Memphis-style planters from the blog A Kailo Chic Life leave the creativity up to the crafter, but provide plenty of inspiration. If you don’t feel like getting your hands messy, these planters are also available for purchase on Etsy. Also, you have to check out her tutorial for making 80s-inspired soap bars – they are SO RAD.


Coasters by No Bad Mondays, via Etsy
Source: Etsy

4. Looking at the design on these coasters makes me feel like I’m back in the ball pit at Discovery Zone. The Etsy store No Bad Mondays totally understands why we love the 80s and 90s.


Abstract pillow project by Holly Wade, via Curbly
Project via Curbly

5. For a more minimal approach, all you need is a little bit of iron-on vinyl. This tutorial by Holly Wade for making an abstract patterned pillow will walk you through it.


Memphis-style mugs project, from My Attic blog
Source: My Attic

6. Bring the Memphis-madness into your kitchen with this tutorial for hand-painted Memphis mugs.


Source: Society 6; Artist: DesigndN

7. Temporary wall paper is ALL THE RAGE right now, and this dreamy 80s pattern wall mural ticks so many boxes. 


DIY circular trivets project by Brittni Mehlhoff, via Curbly
Project via Curbly

8. Squiggles don’t always need to be heavy-duty. The minimal, brushy treatment in these DIY circular trivets from Brittni Mehlhoff bring in just a taste of an era not long forgotten.


Dusen Dusen collaboration with West Elm
Source: West Elm

9. Ellen Van Dusen is at it again. Check out the Dusen Dusen collaboration with West Elm, like these black and white patterned pillow covers.


Memphis design Mugs from Recreation Center
Source: Recreation Center

10. The wormy attitudes of the early 80s stake their claim in this Raw Mark Mug. Designed by artist Josephine Heilpern, Recreation Center truly embraces the Memphis design through a 21st-century lens.


Temporary vinyl wall decals project by Holly Wade, via Curbly
Project via Curbly

11. But let’s get back to the 90s, right? These DIY vinyl wall decals will have you saying, “Cowabunga, dude!” in no time.


80s-inspired design on clock by Silver Pegasus, via Society 6
Source: Society 6; Artist: Silver Pegasus

12. The color scheme in this wall clock is everything. 


Painted chair tutorial from Sugar & Cloth
Project via Sugar & Cloth

13. Follow this painted chair makeover tutorial from the blog Sugar & Cloth if you want to add subtle squiggly lines to an existing piece in your home. By using muted colors, the usual exuberant feel of this pattern tones down nicely to pair with different design motifs.


Memphis design embroidery wall art from Run Lena Run Art, via Etsy
Source:  Etsy

14. Primary colors and clean patterns? Get yourself some handcrafted Memphis design from the Etsy store Run Lena Run Art.


Mini patterend ring dish from Quiet Clementine
Source: Quiet Clementine

15. This mini patterned ring dish is a perfectly teeny way to bring back the 80s.


Pop circles rug from Milatoo, via Society 6
Source: Society 6; Artist:  Milatoo

16. Add color and contrast with this pop circles rug.


Ceramic planter by Baked by Lou, via Etsy
Source:  Etsy

17. This artist from Wales creates pieces with all the attitude of the 80s, coupled with the authentic nature of ceramics. How cute is this planter?

17 temporary ways to use Memphis design in your home
Share this roundup on Pinterest!

If Memphis design is too crazy for your taste, then perhaps your  style is more Mid-Century. Check out this handy style guide!

Mid-Century Modern Guide

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