Five of the most iconic pieces from David Bowie's Memphis collection

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Five of the most iconic pieces in David Bowie's private Memphis collection

Following the news that David Bowie's secret collection of Memphis furniture is going up for sale next month, Adam Trunoske from auction house Sotheby's shares five of the most iconic pieces from the musician's personal stash.

It's now known that before his death earlier this year, Bowie was an avid yet discreet collector of works by Italian designer Ettore Sottsass and the Milan-based Memphis group.

Over the years, he had managed to acquire more than 100 pieces, including the iconic Super Lamp by Martine Bedin and Sottsass' Carlton bookcase.

Trunoske, a specialist in 20th-century design at London auction house Sotheby's, believed Bowie's connection to the design came from his attraction to things "outside of the norm".

"Memphis design and post-modernist design is something that was very groundbreaking," he told Dezeen. "When the first collection of Memphis pieces came out in 1981 in Milan, it just really brought something completely new to the design world."

"I think David Bowie was somebody who really liked and was attracted to things that were outside of the norm," he added.

"He was always kind of changing his style throughout the years and he was never quite the same person, and these pieces really reflected him because they polarised audiences when they came out."

The pieces will be auctioned at Sotheby's on 11 November 2016, with estimates ranging from £60 to £7000.

See Trunoske's picks and descriptions of the most iconic pieces below:


Five most iconic pieces from David Bowie's Memphis collection

Radio Phonograph by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni, 1966

This is a wonderful, ground-breaking piece of 1960s design. You can move the speakers, change the shape of the object, turn it into a cube. It's one of the pieces from the pop art era that totally changed the format of what a record player could look like.


Five most iconic pieces from David Bowie's Memphis collection

Valentine portable typewriter by Ettore Sottsass and Perry King, 1969

This is one of the very first pieces of Sottsass design that Bowie bought. This portable typewriter was designed to be used anywhere apart from the office — at hand for when inspiration struck any writer, poet or lyricist.

In lipstick red, it's become one of the most emblematic design pieces of its era – examples are now in London's Victoria & Albert Museum and Design Museum as well as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.


Five most iconic pieces from David Bowie's Memphis collection

Bel Air armchair by Peter Shire, 1982

This is almost an anti-chair. It's made up of many different shapes and forms. There are only a few flat lines on it, making you wonder "How am I meant to sit on that?", "Where should I sit?". It challenges traditional ideas of how a chair should be.


Five most iconic pieces from David Bowie's Memphis collection

Cube radio by Marco Zanuso and Richard Sapper, 1963

This portable radio folds up into a perfect cube. It's more of a sculpture really. Fun, practical, clever – it encapsulates everything that the Memphis group were about.


Five most iconic pieces from David Bowie's Memphis collection

Riviera carpet by Nathalie du Pasquier, 1983

This isn't just a carpet – it's a piece of art. You can even hang it on the wall if you want to. With its visually rich colour pattern, it's almost hypnotising.