Why playing?

The processes of identity formation are dynamic and ongoing. the results of this ongoing process provide the basis of the “self” that is actualized in play.

(A. Manu, 2012)

When the industrial revolution began in England in the middle of the 18th century and then spread throughout Europe, the world saw the development of fast transports, serial production and the urbanization. Nonetheless, after a first phase when industries were built outside towns, they were moved next to the major commercial areas thus creating a massive phenomenon of migration from the country and a necessary urban re-planning. Because factories were growing and producing faster and faster, a sort of industrial environment raised around them. The working class was organized in districts (especially in the UK) made up back-to-back terrace housing with no garden nor toilets (C. N. Trueman, 2015)

industrialrevolutionworkers1       2829081298_ae3a8a4ed2_b

Even if at the beginning, the industrialisation, brought many social unrests it signed the way for modernity. According to Bayly, the ‘modernising’ process must be regarded:

[n]ot as something which some people or some regions did to others less favored or deserving, but as a series of transformations in which most of the people of the world participated, and to which most of them contributed, not simply as the objects or victims of the successes of others, but actively, independently and creatively (p.xxi)

He argues that industrialization, nationalist feelings and the development of the state occurred wholly in the western world, which soon dominated everything.

While we cannot say that about powerful eastern countries like Russia, in the western world, especially in the US the level of growth at the beginning of the twentieth century was unimaginable. Light, transports and aids were integrated into the new forms of the cities.


F.T. Marinetti’s “Lampione” celebrated light around cities



marinetti città

The Futurist movement, which Marinette was the founder of, expressed the new values of the industrial empowerment. They regarded speed, strenght and violence as a life style and religion.

Finally, economic district was separated from the private life. Social concerns became “hard” as good quality life was understood to be essential and family was seen as the “core social unit”. To face the results of demographic systems that revealed an ageing population with less born, new apartments began to be built thus increasing the extension of the cities itself not only horizontally but even vertically.

Politics, in the second decade of the 19th century tended generally to liberalism, pluralism and favored an economic growth.

Manhattan can be considered the best example for the idea of metropolis (R. Koolhaas, 1978). During the roaring twenties it was depicted as a noisy, illuminated, crowded city, where the thrill was at the center of the everyday experience.


The Movie Fantasia 2000 illustrate New York city in roaring twenties





For the first time Dwellers were living in a network and they explored that as kids. From the birth of the metropolis lifestyle they seemed to gain an attiude to playing. This is correlate to the feeling of empowerment, which modern man seemed to develop, as he became concious of his value as part of a  system (A.Manu, 2012, p.63).



A.Manu (2012) Behaviour Space Farnham: Gower Applied Research

C N Trueman (2015) Life in Industrial Town, Avaiable at: http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/britain-1700-to-1900/industrial-revolution/life-in-industrial-towns/

C. Bayly (24) The Birth of the Modern World 1780–1914. Global Connections and Comparisons Oxford, Blackwell,

Analysis of the Particular Conditions (Social, Economic, Cultural, Political) in which such Plans have been Developed, Avaiable at:http://poieinkaiprattein.org/culture/cities-cultural-planning/Study-of-cultural-planning/2-analysis-of-the-particular-conditions-social-economic-cultural-political-in-which-such-plans-have-been-developed/

R. Koolhaas (1978) Delirious  New York :  A Retroactive  Manifesto  for Manhattan


Welcome Back Fun!





                                  “Ok, don’t know what is this but I like it”


In the 1980 the designer Ettore Sottass, grouped designers architects and a writer in Milan, with the aim of founding a new design movement. The Memphis Group lasted until the 1988 but is considered the last influential movement of the twentieth century.



Memphis in the “Ring” for dining

Sottass was strongly opposed to the seventies design style which he considered humourless and slick and claimed radical ideas which found expression in the colourful and shocking style of the designs.


An interior design made up of the most famous pieces of Memphis’ production


Inspired by Art Deco, Pop Art, Surrealism and Kytsch styles, Memphis created a revolutionary collection of furniture which was an overwhelming composition of materials ( laminates, glass, wood, animal skin etc.. ), colors, patterns and symmetric with asymmetric and untraditional shapes.



“Ashoka” lamp by Ettore Sottsass

In a process of “totemic composition”, Memphis extrapolated familiar objects and re-fitted them into completely different function. The general outcome of their designs was highly aesthetic, complex creations. Even if Memphis designs seem to joke at the principles of “good design” (like durability, simplicity and sustainability) they occupied a central role in PoMo movement of arts and crafts.


           Article on “Spy” magazine (1988)


At the beginning, their interior design was described as “play-ground” and people asked themselves if they really wanted to live there, but nowadays Memphis has obtained a greater recognition influencing fashion, design and art.

Togheter with Natalie du Pasquier, American Apparel created a Memphis’ graphics inspired collection; Li Edelkoort’s show in 2013 linked South African Totemism to Memphis style.

What seems is left from Memphis  to our present time (besides their sculpture-like furniture, which still produced by the company “Post-Design”) is the idea of reinterpretation and reutilization in a continuous process of matching the unmatched and create fluent trends.

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by  Elisa Melodia