Dons of Design
Nathalie Du Pasquier
In the third instalment of Dons of Design, we are focusing on the work and ideas of Nathalie Du Pasquier, the Milan-based painter, designer and founding member of the Memphis Group.
Image above: Nathalie Du Pasquier portrait by Adriana Glaviano for the Kunsthalle Wien gallery in Austria, who held a large solo show of her work in 2016.
Prints, Ceramics & Textiles
For those more skeptical of formal training, or those just wanting to trust their own instincts, Nathalie Du Pasquier is a revelation. Reputedly working as an ice-cream seller in Milan in 1979, dreaming of making a living from her drawings, she happened to meet George Sowden, the British Milan-based designer who was working with Ettore Sottsass at Olivetti. Sowden encouraged her to design textiles, and later, as one of the founding members of Memphis, to work on the ‘decorated surfaces’ of the group’s furniture and objects. Her distinctive drawings, patterns and colour combinations were explosive and vibrant, with a cross-cultural gravitas many a well-trained designer would find difficult to achieve. Her work, at once instinctive, but also containing a complex range of non-formal influences, truly resonated with people. In an article about her influences for Frieze Magazine, she explained some of the thinking at the time. ‘After modernism’s abandonment of decoration, we wanted to make the decorated surface the protagonist again, and not just something added on top. For Memphis, the ‘decorated surface’ was something quite different to the ‘decorated object’. She also describes her particular approach to designing pattern at the time as ‘a way to condense a state of mind, memory, aspirations and more without having to be too clever.’