Postmodernism

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From about 1970 to 1990, Postmodernism shattered established ideas about design and art. A brilliant mix of theatrical and theoretical, Postmodernism ranges from the colourful to the ruinous, the luxurious to the ludicrous. It is a visually thrilling multifaceted style which so famously defies definition.

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Whether surfaces were glossy, faked or deliberately distressed, the Postmodern object reflected the desire to combine subversive statements with commercial appeal. Our collection includes examples by Italian designers – especially the groups Studio Alchymia and Memphis.

Exploring Postmodernism

Photo of Poltrona di Proust, armchair, Alessandro Mendini, 1978, Italy. Museum no. W.9-2012. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Poltrona di Proust, armchair, Alessandro Mendini, 1978, Italy. Museum no. W.9-2012. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of So Long Frank Lloyd Wright Bowl, bowl, Mark Lindquist, 1994, US. Museum no. W.1-2009. Given by Donald Brecker and Mark Lindquist. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
So Long Frank Lloyd Wright Bowl, bowl, Mark Lindquist, 1994, US. Museum no. W.1-2009. Given by Donald Brecker and Mark Lindquist. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Cabinet de Curiosité, cabinet, Shiro Kuramata, 1988, Japan. Museum no. W.25:1 to 3-2010. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Cabinet de Curiosité, cabinet, Shiro Kuramata, 1988, Japan. Museum no. W.25:1 to 3-2010. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Isotta, glass bowl, Bořek Šípek, about 1987, Czech Republic. Museum no. C.52-2011. Purchase funded by the Friends of the V&A. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Isotta, glass bowl, Bořek Šípek, about 1987, Czech Republic. Museum no. C.52-2011. Purchase funded by the Friends of the V&A. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Concrete Stereo, stereo system, Ron Arad, 1983, UK. Museum no. W.7:1 to 6-2011. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Concrete Stereo, stereo system, Ron Arad, 1983, UK. Museum no. W.7:1 to 6-2011. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of The Mickey Mouse Gourmet Collection, kettle, Michael Graves, 1991, made in China and retailed in the US. Museum no. M.29:1 to 3-2010. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
The Mickey Mouse Gourmet Collection, kettle, Michael Graves, 1991, made in China and retailed in the US. Museum no. M.29:1 to 3-2010. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Westside Lounge, armchair, Ettore Sottsass Jr, 1983, Italy. Museum no. W.20-1990. Given by Knoll International. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Westside Lounge, armchair, Ettore Sottsass Jr, 1983, Italy. Museum no. W.20-1990. Given by Knoll International. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Super lamp prototype, designed by Martine Bedin (for Memphis), made by Fausto Celati, 1981, Italy. Museum no. M.1-2011
Super lamp prototype, designed by Martine Bedin (for Memphis), made by Fausto Celati, 1981, Italy. Museum no. M.1-2011

Photo of Poster advertising the music group Kraftwerk at Musikhalle, Hamburg, unknown. Museum no. S.4085-1995. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Poster advertising the music group Kraftwerk at Musikhalle, Hamburg, unknown. Museum no. S.4085-1995. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Poster, art direction by Oliviero Toscani, photograph by Hans-Jürgen Burkhard, 1992. Museum no. E.2170-1997. Given by Modus Publicity on Behalf of the Benetton Group. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Poster, art direction by Oliviero Toscani, photograph by Hans-Jürgen Burkhard, 1992. Museum no. E.2170-1997. Given by Modus Publicity on Behalf of the Benetton Group. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Design for the the AT&T Building, Philip Johnson and John Burgee, 1978, US. Museum no. E.522-2010. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Design for the the AT&T Building, Philip Johnson and John Burgee, 1978, US. Museum no. E.522-2010. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Memphis cocktail glass, Richard Holloway. Museum no. C.338-1983. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Memphis cocktail glass, Richard Holloway. Museum no. C.338-1983. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Photo of Casablanca, sideboard, Ettore Sottsass Jr, 1981, Italy. Museum no. W.14:1 to 6-1990. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Casablanca, sideboard, Ettore Sottsass Jr, 1981, Italy. Museum no. W.14:1 to 6-1990. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Photo of Design drawing for a melon scoop, Pino Spagnolo, 1991 – 94, Italy. Museum no. E.706-1997. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Design drawing for a melon scoop, Pino Spagnolo, 1991 – 94, Italy. Museum no. E.706-1997. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Bel Air, chair, Peter Shire, 1982, US. Museum no. W.19-2010. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Bel Air, chair, Peter Shire, 1982, US. Museum no. W.19-2010. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Little Heavy, chair, Ron Arad, 1989, England. Museum no. W.17-1993. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Little Heavy, chair, Ron Arad, 1989, England. Museum no. W.17-1993. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Learn more about Postmodernism

Background image: © Victoria and Albert Museum, London