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Last year, stationery and furniture brand Rubberband collaborated with Milan-based Nathalie Du Pasquier who is a designer, painter and founder-member of the famed Memphis Group of 1980s. The collaboration resulted in six artworks which were translated into two formats – A5 and A6. We look at the Memphis Group and Nathalie’s collaboration with Rubberband in some detail.
While Nathalie Du Pasquier now mostly work as a painter (still life), till 1986 she designed various decorated surfaces – textiles, carpets, plastic laminates, and some other objects and furniture as well. “Nathalie has a distinctive style of graphics and art and her bold style has been translated into furniture, apparel, textiles and products,” says Rubberband’s founder Ajay Shah while talking about her work.
The collection created under this collaboration is pulsating, thanks to Nathalie’s use of bright colours and geometric shapes. It instantly evokes the spirit of the Memphis Group which revolutionised the design landscape in the 1980s and inspired many leading designers and artists at that time. Its first public outing was in 1981 at the Milan Furniture Fair after which it became the talk of the town. Memphis still continues to evoke a wide range of reactions from designers and consumers across the world.
Led by Italian architect and designer Ettore Sottsass, Memphis overturned the rules defined by the design industry on their head. They created new forms of expressions through the use of new shapes, materials and patterns, although questionable in their functionality. In a 2001 Guardian piece by Jonathan Glancey, Nathalie herself describes Memphis as “a way of life, of transferring into the world of the western home the culture of rock music, travel and a certain excess”.
Interestingly, the Guardian piece also mentions Ettore’s travels to India and the US in the 1960s, where he was inspired by Tantric and Pop Art, as major influences on the Memphis movement. In Nathalie’s case, some of the early Memphis inspirations came from her travels to Africa where patterns left a deep impression on her.
In 2007, Memphis saw a sort of revival when Ettore passed away. The newer generation found itself drawn to the bold movement through various exhibitions and new work that was inspired by the Memphis era. American Apparel, for example, approached Nathalie in 2014 to design a collection based on her work under Memphis.
Rubberband’s Ajay, like many other designers, is also influenced by the work of Nathalie and the Memphis movement. “Our collaboration with her was largely due to the influence she had on me when I was studying design and a heartfelt reach out to her led to this series,” he says.
Apart from Nathalie, Rubberband has also collaborated with London-based French artist Jean Jullien in the recent past. Jean is well-known for his conspicuously simple and yet powerful illustrations, which also include the famous ‘Peace for Paris’ symbol. The collaboration with Jean led to a range of notebooks in which charming characters play around with Rubberband’s furniture. The brand has also worked with Anthony Burrill who is a graphic artist, printmaker and designer. In India, Rubberband has collaborated with the 100% Zine (co-founded by Sameer Kulavoor and Lokesh Karekar), to create a limited edition publication for their sixth issue featuring works from the sketchbooks of 14 artists, along with an integrated sketchbook.
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