Design The story of Karl Lagerfeld’s Memphis House

The story of Karl Lagerfeld’s Memphis House

Anna Frattini

In 1983, Karl Lagerfeld opened the doors of his apartment in Monte Carlo to Regina Spelman and her husband Jacques Schumacher. They were an editor and a photographer, respectively, for a small German magazine that would soon close its doors. However, the result of their reportage has remained in the history of design: Lagerfeld captured in the Memphis-furnished apartment. The images not only depict a moment of glory for one of the movements that revolutionized the history of design but also outline the profile of a designer destined to enter the annals of fashion history.

The Memphis Group

In 1981, the Memphis Group, founded by Ettore Sottsass, made its debut at the Salone del Mobile with its first collection. It consisted of 55 pieces that played with elements of kitsch, pop culture, and advertising, among other influences. In contrast to the modernist elegance, this was a postmodern style that aimed to represent the spirit of the recently initiated era of media and globalization. Other members of the group included Barbara Radice, Aldo Cibic, Matteo Thun, Marco Zanini, Martine Bedine, Michele De Lucchi, Nathalie Du Pasquier, George Sowden e Ernesto Gismondi – all designers.

Karl Lagerfeld’s house in Monte Carlo

It seems significant that Karl Lagerfeld, then recently appointed creative director of Chanel, possessed so many pieces from the Memphis Group, acquired with the help of his friend Andrée Putman. The German fashion designer was also a great collector of art and photography, quick to part with iconic pieces by selling them at auctions. This was one of his strengths as a creative mind, always in search of novelty. For this reason, his Memphis collection was also entrusted to the auction house Sotheby’s for sale in 1991.

Although nothing remains of the apartment today, Jacques Schumacher’s photos serve as a testimony to an incredibly stimulating historical moment in culture, design and art when Karl Lagerfeld was already an icon of his time.

Written by Anna Frattini
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