Dennis Zanone & The Largest Collection of Memphis-Milano Pieces

Ginza, Casablanca and Carlton, Memphis Milano.

Introducing Dennis Zanone

I recently came into contact with Dennis Zanone, the owner of the largest collection of Memphis Milano pieces form 80-87 in the world since the one of Karl Lagerfeld and David Bowie. He redirected me towards information about his life, and trust me, it isn’t like yours or mine. Dennis Zanone is a wedding photographer living in Tennessee. However, Dennis wakes up every morning in a colorful boxing ring to a living space that completely challenges mainstream perceptions of interior design. Dennis lives in a space governed by odd colorful shapes and it looks what I could only describe as fantastic.

Dennis Zanone’s Memphis Collection. Photograph from Dennis Zanone

Memphis Milano

The Memphis Group was an Italian design and architecture group founded by Ettore Sottsass, who in 1980 opened shop and created the creative collaborative which he named “Memphis” in 1981. This rather peculiar name for a group of Italian designers comes from the Bob Dylan song; “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again” which had been played during one of the group’s meetings.

The Memphis Milano group is responsible for many of the colors, shapes, and patterns that gave birth to that “80s Aesthetic” that existed during the time period and that still prevails today.

These designers are known for unconventional creations that revolutionized the relationship between objects and their conceptual designs. They drew and created Postmodern furniture, fabrics, ceramics, glass and metal objects. Their work often incorporates timeless design accompanied with colorful, abstract decoration as well as asymmetrical shapes.

Anchorage (teapot), Memphis Milano.

If anyone were to walk into Dennis’s home they would probably see what looks like an 80s film set. The colors imply that these are childish pieces. However, Dennis states that these are heavy, well-made objects. Another aspect of their uniqueness is the deceptive “unpractical” appearance they hold. None of them seem to fulfill their purpose by design but do perfectly in practice. Here’s a quote from Dennis Zanone taken from an interview made in 2015 for Artnew.com:

“They all look impractical. None of them are.”

Roma Chair, Memphis Milano.

The Tawayara (Boxing Ring)

Current Tawarya sold by Memphis. photograph from Memphis-Milano.

Created in 1981 by Masanori Umeda, one of the Memphis designers, the Tawara is Dennise’s favorite artifact from his collection. It looks like a boxing ring although its purpose isn’t fully clear. It can be used for anything if you ask me. However, it is said that Masanori Umeda called it a “conversation pit”. Earlier drawings from the designer showed a blanket and pillows, alluding that the object could be considered a bed. I personally believe that this piece of furniture could hardly come into someone’s home without creating a disconnect within the space, however, I believe that it is simply a marvel of design.

Memphis Designer Group on the Original Tawayara Boxing Ring Model.

I am glad to have discovered Dennis and the Memphis design group, I truly appreciate these abstract shapes and colors that represent a childish like innocence. The design is fun, the furniture is fun, the colors are fun. And honestly, I could see how boring people could get offended by it.

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