With the BMW i8 Memphis Style Edition, their own Art Car becomes a reality for a few customers. The design of Garage Italia Customs is not officially designed as a BMW Art Car, but it does not have to hide with its artistically decorated surfaces, not far behind previous classics of the BMW series. And the special edition has an invaluable advantage: While the Art Cars have always remained unsaleable, the BMW i8 Memphis Style Edition is actually built in small numbers.

The Memphis Style of the 1980s, which was founded and lived by artists in Milan, serves as a model and concept for the spectacular look. For the presentation of the BMW i8 Memphis Style Edition and a formally similar BMW i3, Michele de Lucchi was one of the most important representatives of Memphis Style. The new interpretations of the year 2017 were not designed by Michele de Lucchi, but by the creative minds of Garage Italia Customs working under Lapo Elkann.

“Renewing the bond with BMW i is a great pleasure. I fully share their vision of looking at the future and technological innovation as the leading elements in any project.” – says Lapo Elkann, Chairman and Creative Director of Garage Italia Customs. “Creativity, style and innovation have always been the key features of all the work carried out by my team in the field of planning and the study of design. This collaboration has given me the opportunity to celebrate my great passion for the Memphis artists. I have been collecting significant works of art from this movement for quite a while and they surround me and inspire me in my everyday life. I can’t help but be proud of the result achieved by my creative hub. Once again, my designers have beaten every expectation; they managed to transfer the real essence of the Memphis Design onto these futuristic one-offs”.

Founded in 1981 by Ettore Sottsass, the Memphis Group was an absolute antithesis to functionalism and any commercial logic. It gave rise to daring lines in furniture that was characterized by unusual materials and original graphic patterns. The style was clearly provocative and was inspired by movements like Art Deco and its surprising geometrical shapes, Pop Art with its bright colours and Kitsch as a way to detach from the minimalist design of the 70s.

Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President of BMW Group Design: “During the nineteen- eighties, the Memphis Group questioned the formal severity and classic functionality of design artefacts both in a somewhat provocative and humorous manner. In this way, Memphis became a symbol of contemporary design. With its design drafts, the Group challenged existing dogmas, aroused emotions and created designs with high recognition value. The BMW Group pursued a similar approach when designing the BMW i vehicles, questioning typical car design language, breaking new ground and redesigning vehicles from scratch. Electric vehicles of the first generation were predominantly intended to attract attention. We also adopted a new approach with regard to materiality. For example, we were the first car manufacturer to use carbon fibre reinforced plastic as new material for industrial series production. We thank Lapo Elkann for the creative and inspiring cooperation and are particularly pleased that, with Michele De Lucchi, we have been able to gain one of the founding members of the Memphis Group for this collaboration with Garage Italia Customs.”

Michele de Lucchi was one of the co-founders of Memphis Design Group. The MemphisStyle project was carried out with his guidance:

“Memphis takes me back in time to my youth”, says Michele De Lucchi, “the early years in Milan and especially me and many of my colleagues’ friendship with Ettore Sottsass. I was 28 years old and life was different then. We wanted to break with the grand style traditions, to be revolutionaries and prove that revolution is also possible through the creation of objects and their presence. We wanted a new way to define the meaning of our existence. At that time, today’s topics – unsustainable lifestyles, post-post-modern readings, unwanted political assimilations etc. were largely not yet there. However, we already had the desire to stop the logic of rampant consumerism, and we wanted to go deeper. Not with negativity, but with optimism; celebrating decoration, and with a colourful sense of real involvement. In this way, the core of Memphis, of what we did and what we desired, is timeless.”

Oblique, horizontal and vertical lines along with hypnotic patterns and vibrant colors are the main characteristics of the new liveries created by Garage Italia Customs. A succession of sharp surface contrasts that become pure expression of rebellion and liberation from the rigid standards of traditional design. What catches the eye is that every single element is perfectly aligned and the geometrical shapes flawlessly follow the curves of the bodywork of the two cars. The realization was extremely meticulous and it required over five weeks of work. Before the various painting phases, different masking was applied to each car in order to create the patterns. There are as many as eight layers of color on the body which proves the complexity of the entire process.

Both interiors clearly confirm and express the same break-through and experimenting philosophy typical of the Memphis Design. The different materials chosen for the upholstery (technical fabric, Alcantara® and Foglizzo leather) are in strong contrasting chromatic matches. Bright colors, from orange to purple, green and yellow are the main features along with the tailored graphic patterns. Every single element of the cabin thus becomes an integral part of the artistic language that stirred the 80s and influenced design and decor over the following years.

After the Premiere of the special edition at Salone del Mobile in Milan, the BMW i8 MemphisStyle will be exhibited at Frieze New York 2017. The MemphisStyle Edition BMW i3 and BMW i8 are unique pieces. Garage Italia Customs offers the Design to BMW i customers upon request.