Grids Galore!

This geometric graphic trend hasn’t been this popular since Harry met Sally (literally). Grid backgrounds are EVERYWHERE right now – websites, packaging design, you name it. I even use a grid in the new branding I created last November. In my opinion, this checkered renaissance was left in the wake of the aftermath of an 80’s design style’s recent revival. What is this style, you ask? 80’s babies – think: Saved by the Bell. The goofy colors and geometric shapes from our favorite 90’s classic teen show actually have a name – it’s called Memphis Style.

Saved By The Bell hangout “The Max”; Memphis Style Interiors; Memphis Style Pattern; Memphis Style Chair

The Memphis Group was an Italian architecture firm, famous for its postmodern furniture, carpets, lighting, and the like. The Milan-based group formed in 1980 as a conscious objection to modernism. Their style was clearly influenced by terrazzo (which I explain in a previous blog post), with similarities of haphazard shapes. But while terrazzo was more indicative of the imperfections of nature, Memphis Style was its bizarre, ephemeral cousin; born of asymmetrical triangles, circles, and bold primary colors. Not everyone was a raving fan.

According to Brand Strategist, Bertrand Pellegrin, Memphis Style can be best described as “a shotgun wedding between Bauhaus and Fisher-Price.” Another trend researcher describes its colors as “Sesame Street”. And Pee-wee’s Playhouse.

Pee Wee’s Playhouse

The Memphis Group disbanded in 1987, but they clearly left their mark. Saved by the Bell is my favorite example of Memphis Style in action; Pee-wee’s playhouse is another example. I’m unsure how the grid initially played into Memphis Style, but you can see it in almost every example I’ve posted – in the windows of The Max, as tilework beneath the kooky furniture, and in the background of the Memphis graphics. It makes sense; a checkered background provides some grounding And while the various, colorful shapes pair really nicely with the lightly screened grid background, both are strong enough to stand on their own. Here are a few modern examples of a grid background in action. Enjoy!

Grids in packaging design, photography, and bathroom tile

      

Terrazzo

I don’t remember the approximate date, where I was, or what website I was on when I first heard of “terrazzo”. It’s not like the “where were you when you first heard of yoga pants” question. (Answer: At my cousin Leslie’s Vegas bachelorette party, circa 2010.) But if I had to guess, terrazzo first crept into my vocabulary about 18 months ago, and I was probably on a website like CB2. They were PROBABLY selling something like terrazzo coasters. And I was like, sweet! A pattern I’ve never heard of.

Planter from CB2 (Above), Wallpaper from West Elm, Shirt from Madewell

The origin of terrazzo is Italian –  it started as a cementitious floor and wall treatment. Tiny chips of color (such as marble, quartz, granite, and glass) were mixed with a binder, and then poured into a precast either on a floor or wall. Now, the word “terrazzo” often refers to the pattern, and not the cementitious floor and wall treatment. Little did I know, that pattern would slowly creep into every aspect of my design-fueled life over the next year and a half. And I relished in it.

It started slowly, with me noticing this multicolored, ununiform, chip-like pattern on interior design websites – tile, wallpaper, dishware, pillows, curtains… Then, it made its way into clothing. Finally, I began noticing it on labels. But on labels, it has taken on the form of a more curvy, macro cousin, that I like to call “the blobbies”.

Dram CBD Water, Mabel & Joy Packaging, Bana Coffee Packaging, Wiley Body Packaging

I like the blobbies, actually. When I was younger, daydreaming about the future, I only had shows like Zenon: Girl of the 21stCentury, to tell me what it would look like. I’ve always pictured dramatic, hard lines. Example: people cutting their bangs on a diagonal and wearing their hair in such a tight ponytail that it gives you perma-headache. There was also lots of red pleather (thanks, Britney) and shiny silver metallic. Who would have ever guessed it’d be full of inviting, soft colored, organically shaped blobbies instead?

Like an alien invasion, the blobbies have also taken over jewelry!

Earrings from Four Eyes Ceramics

When it comes to this latest design trend, I’ve definitely asked myself “why now”? This is all speculation, but I think it has something to do with what I mentioned before. For a lot of us 30-somethings and older, we’re finally living in “the future”, and these patterns remind us that the future isn’t as scary-looking as we once thought. When it comes to terrazzo, (which characteristics are more hard edges and chip-like than the blobbies), I think we needed this unorganized, chaotic pattern to remind us that if our lives are just that – unorganized and chaotic, they are also still beautiful.

(Is anyone else having a Saved By The Bell flashback?)