Nathalie du Pasquier is So Much More Than the Poster Girl for Memphis Design

When a return to Memphis became the defining design trend back in the early 2010s, a few of the movement’s original members flew to the forefront of discourse once again, among them Peter Shire, Ettore Sottsass, and Nathalie du Pasquier, whose exuberant patterning became a kind of shorthand for cool around that time. (If you came home from Milan in 2014 without an NDP Wrong for Hay tote bag, were you even there?)

But while Du Pasquier became pigeon-holed for that kind of blocky, frazzled look (remember when she designed for American Apparel?!), she’s always been so much more than that, and the full fruits of her output as an artist are on view this month at an exhibition called “Speed Limit” at Anton Kern Gallery in New York. Some of our favorite pieces on view are her more representational paintings, dated from 2002-2007, for which she built still lifes on a table in her studio but then focused on rendering their geometric forms in space. A lemon, a plug, a domino, a rubber glove — these items are still recognizable but look as if they’ve been dropped into a more traditionally abstract painting, with flat planes and even flatter light, which creates a sort of disconnect from their original domestic context.

Complementing the paintings, Du Pasquier had a little square cabin built in the center of the exhibition, its exterior painted in red and white vertical stripes and a suite of framed drawings on the walls. The addition of a colorful patterned rug on the floor, designed by Du Pasquier, underscores the domesticity of the small room. A must visit.