Michele De Lucchi was one of the cofounders of the Milan designer group Memphis, which emerged at the end of 1980 around the central figure of Ettore Sottsass. The group’s very first exhibition unleashed a frenzy of enthusiasm. Since then, the shrill, sensual, and playful designs produced by Memphis have exploded all academic convention and substantially influenced the world of design. G. S. Sowden, also a cofounder of Memphis, writes: “The ornamental style belongs to the world of electronics, just as functionalism is part of the world of machines and machine aesthetics.”1 The prevalent criterion for design was no longer the ability to solve technical problems, but rather the object’s capacity for communication. It was necessary to confront the multiplicity of Postmodern styles in order to capture the Zeitgeist in a fast-paced, experimental design idiom.
“First” by Michele de Lucchi was one of the few designs intended for the broad public, and quickly became a bestseller. The back and armrest construction is a true eye-catcher. It consists of a steel tube, bent to form a circle, which supports a flexible backrest comprising a round wooden disk on rubber bearings and two wooden spheres as armrests. The tube is welded to the front legs of the simple stool, which forms the seat frame, almost completely engulfing the sitter. Although the construction is extremely stable, the reduced elements radiate a strong impression of lightness. The restrained use of decorative elements gives “First” an almost classic air among the Memphis objects, making it suitable for furnishing conventional interiors. MK
(1) George P. Sowden, quoted in Barbara Radice, Memphis Design(Munich: Bangert, 1988), 88.