For the past few years, the '80s Memphis Group has experienced an unrivaled resurgence. The signature quirky, geometric patterns, bright colors and asymmetric, graphic forms have inspired a host of contemporary designers in their own work while archival pieces have been reissued and the subject of many international exhibitions. There is a very contemporary attitude in the way Memphis approached design—an energetic yet light-hearted liberation of the terms that define the discipline which remains exciting today.
Now, two of the movement's founding members, Nathalie Du Pasquier and George Sowden are reinterpreting Memphis's relevance for our contemporary moment with a new collection of home textiles created for the Swiss company ZigZagZurich. Under the name CoopDPS, the label features a range of colorful fabrics, including wool throws, pillow covers, duvet covers, sheets, and curtains.
We caught up with the designers about how their collaboration came about, how their approach to design has changed since the '80s and why patterns stir our emotions.
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Why was the collaboration with ZigZagZurich the right opportunity to launch CoopDPS?
George: Nathalie and myself were looking for an opportunity to start a collaborative design organization through which we could work together. 4Spaces and ZigZagZurich (ZZZ) contacted us at just that right moment when we were ready, impatient to start and had some time.
Nathalie: George introduced me to textile design in the 80s, and this is our first time working together since then. In a sense, working on this project together represents coming full circle.
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Where did the name come from?
Nathalie: CoopDPS is a COOPeration between Du Pasquier (Nathalie) and Sowden (George), abbreviated it is COOPDPS.
How has your design approach evolved most significantly since you first began working together in the 80s?
Nathalie: Back in the 80s, and now too, we look to capture the air of our times. These patterns have nothing to do with our work from the 80s, they were designed specifically for 4Spaces and ZigZagZurich, thinking of what is appropriate now under our collaboration. The work may be different, but our approach is the same.
"Plastic Fantastic is a unique fabric we developed which has special light transmitting properties. When the light shines through the drapery, a vitrage effect like a church window takes place, transmitting the room full of color."
The first collection is the "post-crisis" collection and the names for the patterns are often geographic locations/cities/planets. What emotions do you hope to evoke with the textile designs?
George: Through the "post crisis" collection, we want to reflect the shift in our consumption post the 2008 crash. Today, there's an acute awareness of the damages caused by mass production, waste and pollution. We now make our decisions based on sensitivity towards our planet; conscious and calculated decision making around our needs. Our collection is an expression of these ideas using geometric and all-over prints, in color combinations that create a fresh identity for the customer.
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When designing patterns, how does the material and usage (in this case, cotton bed linens and wool throws) influence the design?
George: There are technical limitations when weaving fabrics such as the number of colors and the shape of the motifs, but with modern computer-controlled looms, possibilities are many. Of course, if we are weaving only two colors it goes without saying that it influences the drawing! Printing is different; few limitations on the number of colors and no limitations with shapes and this means infinite possibilities when starting a drawing! Our drawings and patterns are the result of our sensitivity and feelings about contemporary decoration. We do not look to the past for our inspiration. Pattern adds emotional interest and identity to interiors; with our drawings and designs we are not specifically thinking 'bedroom' or 'living' but the collection is broad enough and allows personal choice to decide the final effect of the patterns used.