Brands are reinventing Memphis’ retro design trend

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If you don’t know Memphis Design by name, you will probably recognize it by sight. With bold graphic patterns and retro color palettes contrasting with plenty of neon hues, the ’80s design aesthetic is hard to miss.

Design styles are often an indication or reaction to the times we live in; Memphis Design is the perfect example, both when it came on the scene and now.

The 1960s and 1970s were heavily influenced by modern minimalism, which played the “less is more” rule, encouraging clean lines and neutral tones. Tired of this lack of enthusiasm for design, a group of architects and industrial designers from Milan, Italy responded by doing the exact opposite. Calling themselves the Memphis Group, they rebelled against the tide of understated design with styling centered on bold colors and a jumble of geometric shapes, stripes and bold patterns. Originally born in the form of furniture, the trend quickly spread to art, design, fashion and popular culture.



As we’ve all spent much of the past 18 months trapped within the four walls of our homes, it’s no surprise that we see a collective desire for more enthusiasm in design and beyond. Brands are once again embracing smarter packaging trends that not only showcase their personality, but also brighten up their customers’ days.

Memphis Design’s strong presence can be polarizing, especially when not approached the right way, but many brands are finding impressive ways to give the trend their own touch and distinguish between retro and retro. fashion and the old fashioned.

Here are six brands that do a great job of bringing Memphis Design back in a modern way, one package at a time.

1. Who gives a shit

The vibrant colors and mix of designs used for WGAC’s packaging are eye-catching, fun and inviting and matches the energy of the brand. Image Credit: Who Gives a CrapThe ethic of this Australian-based company is to do things differently, and that rings true for everything from its product to its packaging. While most of us had viewed toilet paper as a boring and bland necessity, Who Gives a Crap (WGAC) saw an opportunity to innovate and shake things up, while having a positive social and environmental impact. .

While WGAC’s intentions are obviously very serious, its brand personality is anything but (does toiletry humor ever get old?), And it has adapted Memphis Design to embody that in its packaging.

Using bright colors and a mix of designs made up of lines, circles and geometric shapes, it’s eye-catching, fun, inviting, and most importantly, matches the energy of the brand. Plus, all of these elements create the perfect backdrop for her logo to really stand out.

2. Temescal Brewery

From its glassware to its beer cans, Oakland, California-based Temescal Brewing plays with multiple elements of Memphis design in all of its brand's assets.From its glassware to its beer cans, Oakland, California-based Temescal Brewing plays with multiple elements of Memphis design in all of its brand’s assets.From its glassware to its beer cans, Oakland, California-based Temescal Brewing plays with multiple elements of Memphis design in all of its brand’s assets. In some cases, this is a more traditional look, using those recognizable contrasting patterns and vibrant color choices. In others, they experimented with cool letter shapes infused with Memphis vibes to let product names and styles speak for themselves.

Temescal’s aesthetic is ultimately a perfect example of the versatility of Memphis Design, even within a single brand. Depending on the feel they want to evoke for each product, they tailor the style accordingly. The brand prides itself on being fresh and welcoming, and they are cleverly using Memphis Design to send that message.

3. Doritos

From flashy geometric shapes and lines to neon hues, Doritos' limited edition tangy pickle flavor design exudes the intensity for which Memphis Design is known.  Image credit: DoritosFrom flashy geometric shapes and lines to neon hues, Doritos’ limited edition tangy pickle flavor design exudes the intensity for which Memphis Design is known. Image credit: DoritosWhile Doritos obviously has an assortment of different packaging designs, this limited edition tangy pickle flavor exudes some serious Memphis energy. This is perhaps the most obvious example of Memphis Design on this list, almost taking you back to the ’80s just by looking at it.

From flashy geometric shapes and lines to neon colors, the design is unmistakably on your face, exuding the intensity for which Memphis Design is known. While this packaging design is probably a bit of a stretch for many, in this case it is a perfect representation of the intense flavor of the crisps inside, stimulating the senses as much as the taste!

4. Ice Halo Top

Halo Top's clever use of miniature shapes and lines encompasses the Memphis feel without clashing with the essence of the brand.  Image credit: Halo TopHalo Top’s clever use of miniature shapes and lines encompasses the Memphis feel without clashing with the essence of the brand. Image credit: Halo TopHalo Top is a game-changer in the ice cream category. Much like the Memphis group, the brand wanted to rebel against something that seemed to be stagnating. In this case, that thing was the idea that ice cream could and should only be tasted in small doses.

While a bit more subtle, the brand’s minimalist use of Memphis Design aims to evoke the same pleasure and joy that comes with eating an entire pint of ice cream in one sitting. By just looking at the variety of colors, shapes, and strokes cleverly used for each flavor, you get an idea of ​​how the product tastes. It seems a little extravagant without being too much, and this clever use of miniature shapes and lines encompasses the Memphis feel without clashing with the essence of the brand.

5. Calexo

Calexo's packaging is full of vibrant colors and graphic geometric patterns that are reminiscent of the fresh nature of the Memphis aesthetic.  Image credit: CalexoCalexo’s packaging is full of vibrant colors and graphic geometric patterns that are reminiscent of the fresh nature of the Memphis aesthetic. Image credit: CalexoCalexo, based in California, makes sparkling cannabis drinks designed to “bring a smile to your mind.” This is perfectly embodied in its packaging, which is packed with vibrant colors and graphic geometric patterns that are reminiscent of the fresh nature of the Memphis aesthetic. But the smiles don’t end there, as the brand has extended the design through its suite of brand assets, from social media to its website.

Memphis design can (intentionally) seem quite spontaneous and chaotic and can sometimes feel out of place, applied haphazardly to a packaging design. However, by applying it to all touchpoints of its brand, Calexo maintains brand consistency and recognizability, which are essential attributes for building trust and lasting relationships with customers.

6. Powerful eraser

Mighty Gum's packaging shakes things up with a softer take on the classic Memphis design.Mighty Gum’s packaging shakes things up with a softer take on the classic Memphis design.Mighty Gum’s packaging shakes things up with a softer take on the classic Memphis design. Instead of straight lines, rigid geometric patterns and bold colors, the brand mixes things up by incorporating more organic shapes and muted, understated colors, all covered in tiny zigzag illustrations.

This is a great example of revamping a trend to better fit your branding philosophy and better attract your target audience. The way Mighty Gum has applied Memphis Design allows the brand to differentiate itself from other erasers on the market, without distancing itself from its ideal customers. And following the crowd was never what Memphis was anyway!



There is one common theme that all of these brands share, and that is the desire to be known for doing things a little differently. If you are also looking to help your products stand out from the crowd, then Memphis might be the design style for you. But, as with any packaging design, whatever you choose should reflect your personality, values, and goals as a brand. Feel free to make Memphis your own – after all, the style itself was born out of breaking the rules!

Tristan Le Breton is Creative Director of 99designs by Vistaprint.

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