At High Point Market, Brands Play With Op-Art Inspirations

Bernhardt furniture products at High Point Market

Bernhardt dresser at High Point Market


Once described by Bertrand Pellegrin as “a shotgun wedding between Bauhaus and Fisher-Price,” Memphis design- a 1980s phenomenon, think squiggly lines, black and white graphics, mixed materials and clashing colours- has returned into the interior and product design zeitgeist over the last few years, thanks to popular contemporary designers like Kelly Behun and Dusen Dusen. And so, while I was fully prepared to see Memphis-inspired pieces at this year’s ICFF High End Furniture Fair in NYC and New YorkxDESIGN (the city-wide design expo) next month, it was an unexpected but delightful surprise to see designers at High Point Furniture Market (currently on this week) show pieces with a nod to the Italian design group.

As the largest home furnishings trade show in the world, High Point Market tends to show a more traditional style. Over the past few seasons, brands leaned toward Hollywood Regency glamour—think damask prints, rich velvets, sunburst lighting and lacquered finishes. But at this spring market, brands showed more varied styles featuring industrial metals and finishes, felted upholstery pieces, fringed and tasseled textiles and, yes, even some Memphis inspirations.

Kate Spade

Brands from Kelly Wearstler to Novogratz gave a nod to the Memphis Design Group’s love of 1960s Op Art. At Berhardt Furniture, a dresser alternated black resin and white bone for a dizzying effect. At Kate Spade, the designer paired large scale black and white polka dots with a smaller pointillist pattern, creating an compelling illusionary detail.

That’s not to say that these op art inspiration pieces don’t remain true to High Point Market’s commercial appeal. The black and white colour palette ensures these styles stay assessable for a broader market, but there is definitely a shift away from the glamour of Hollywood Regency. As the barometer for American interior design, High Point will always have to please the masses, but it’s encouraging to see prominent brands embracing more offbeat design.

Novogratz design

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