Calling Memphis: 8 Ways to Bring Retro 1980s Design Home

A complete rejection of minimalism, the 1980s style design is beloved because it was brought to life through the pop culture we still know and enjoy today – whether it’s Michael Jackson music videos or by Whitney Houston or films such as Blade Runner, Indiana Jones Where Back to the future.

The 1980s-style neon lights of the era took root in retro-inspired Dubai interiors such as the RollDXB roller rink, Boxica, a boxing gym located in Dubai Studio City and the neon-lit arcade in the center entertainment venue Brass Monkey in Bluewaters, Dubai. .

During the 80s style of furniture design gives you the appeal of elegance and natural sophistication with playful approaches like neon and graffiti. During this time, we’ve been inspired by decades of crazy patterns, vibrant colors and feathery hairstyles.

– Mark Leo Mirandilla, senior interior designer at HortonTech

DXB roll

Image Credit: Supplied

Mark Leo Mirandilla, senior interior designer on the team behind Boxica at HortonTech, a GCC interior design and fit-out firm, says, “During the 80s, furniture design style gave you the appeal of elegance and natural sophistication with playful approaches. like neon lights and graffiti. During this time, we’ve been inspired by decades of crazy patterns, vibrant colors and feathery hairstyles. “The rise of MTV and pop music has also seen people bring styles they’ve seen on screen into their own homes.

There’s a special story you need to know, which decades later has set the tone for many fashion, interior, social media and web design models today. He decided on the essential elements of the 80s look.

Intrepid creators ready to rebel

42 years ago, on a cold winter’s day in Milan, a group of 21 designers and architects from around the world came together to discuss a radical new proposal. Ettore Sottsass, the Italian architect who had called the meeting, wanted to rebel against the somewhat uniform and corporate design that was invading the world of interiors.

It turned out that Nobel laureate Bob Dylan’s song, “Stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues again,” from the album “Blonde on Blonde,” was playing in the background as they discussed their ideas.

One word stood out – Memphis. They took that name and for the next seven years wreaked havoc on all contemporary design ideas. Does this sound like a library to you? Mirandilla says, “It’s designed by this group from Memphis that was really out of this world at that time.”

Mirandilla says, “It’s like a collection of luxury items, but of course, if you’re a comfort-oriented person, some of the furniture looks a little odd after five minutes of sitting there.

“They kind of wanted to give a new style to modernism because they think modernism is boxed in or like square or trapped in a prison. That’s why we all of a sudden, at that time, America had the idea of ​​putting this intricate furniture with a mixture of leather and different geometric shapes. The furniture was a mixture of kitsch, Art Deco (think pre-depression era, Hollywood roaring lion intro), layered geometry, bright colors and graphic patterns such as peas.

It also spread into fashion and was loved by many at the time. David Bowie had a collection of nearly 100 pieces, and fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld’s home was filled with iconic Memphis pieces.

Fashionable Memphis in the 1990s:


• Neon signs
• Graffiti
• Memphis pieces or graphic design on social networks
• Chintz or floral wallpaper, sofa upholstery

The best 80s style additions to your home

Here are some tips for a touch of beautiful retro 80s style design in your home:

1. Signage and neon lighting from the “neon decade”

1980s retro style home neon light
Image credit: Unsplash/Socialcut

Adding a neon sign with flowing, curvy writing can brighten up any space for a fun look. Mirandilla says, “When you say neon it should be vibrant, you know, you have a striking blue, you have a striking fuchsia, purplish light, and then they look like this pattern which is flamboyant. You know, if you go back to the story itself, it’s also from the Art Deco era. Think neon purple hues from Whitney Houston’s legendary “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” music video.

As for lighting, Mirandilla says spherical-shaped fixtures, with brass, matte-black finishes were common.

2. Memphis design in layered geometry, bright colors

Just add a geometric throw pillow in a bright color, a spherical lamp, paint a bright geometric shape on your wall, or add graphic print upholstery to bring the iconic 80s design to Memphis. A little advice – if you paint a semicircle behind a vanity mirror and a desk, it’s part of the whole thing.

Do you remember Marty McFly’s skateboard in “Back to the Future” or the MTV intro? They reflect the graphic print design style of the time.

Mirandilla says, “You have trapezoidal shapes, you have triangles, you have semicircular shapes. You have these vertical and horizontal lines with a combination of RGB colors like red, green, blue.

“What’s really distinctive about this era is that it’s all about dynamism. So you have this hard red and then all of a sudden you have hard black, hard purple.

Here are some designs that can bring Memphis-style design to your home:

3. Wild wallpapers on an accent wall

Mirandilla says, “They use a lot of wallpaper, from an intricate pattern to a geometric zigzag pattern, you know, a pattern to an animal print, like a zebra thing. Wild Wallpapers. Flowers, plants, leaves – something to do associated with flora and fauna.

You can add it in an accent wall in any of your rooms.

4. Tropical flora and fauna

Flora and fauna prints have also spread to countertops, cushions and sofa upholstery.

5. Decorative plants

In 1980s hotels and homes, Mirandilla tells us, a beautiful tall palm or banana leaf plant was placed in the corners to accentuate the interiors.

6. Velvet high back sofas like “Friends”

Friends sofa-1568014195417

A high back sofa adds a warm, retro vibe to your space.

The Central Perk “Friends” sofa — which housed the show’s beloved cast for all 10 seasons — is a prime example of high-back sofas in a plush fabric that Mirandilla says was fairly common at the time. Leather was also a popular fabric.

He says, “Usually it’s like a velvety fabric that has an intricate pattern on its seams.”

7. “Granny Chic” Chintz and Ruffles

A far cry from Memphis neon and design, many 1980s homes also saw country-style chintz, or printed multi-colored cotton fabric, often with floral and leaf patterns, used for beds and upholstery. .

Buckle up for a surprise – vintage chintz is currently making a comeback as Grand Millennial or ‘Granny Chic’ style as more and more people seek out a cozy and nostalgic aesthetic. Airbnb and Tiktok have counted this among their biggest design predictions for this year.

8. Memphis Style Pop Art and Geometric Art

Mirandilla gives some examples: “The MTV animation, the sketches of certain Hollywood actresses and actors and the rough finishes of the pencils. Like a child being given a pencil, and all of a sudden you’re drawing something – and it’s more of a free movement.

9. Custom graffiti

1980s retro graffiti

Choose any original graffiti of your taste for an art wall in your room.
Image credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons

From colorful geometric street art at Ruben Sanchez’s Jumeirah Lakes Towers to fun graphics on the walls of City Walk – plenty of stunning graffiti works adorn the streets and landmarks of Dubai today. You can take a sheet of this book and bring it home in a personalized and original graffiti on your wall.

From neon and bold shapes in geometric style to your favorite ornate furniture reminiscent of grandma’s house – decorate your home with beautiful, nostalgic pieces because ‘Don’t stop believing! Hold on to that feeling…’

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