Memphis in Cologne

In the Stollwerck-Haus in the Rhine metropolis, a unique retail design from the mind of Ettore Sottsass, the co-founder of the Memphis Group, is partly accessible again after careful restoration work.

Black and white speckled terrazzo running from floor to ceiling contrasted with glass tiles in turquoise and laminate surfaces with a root wood pattern – this special combination of materials, colors, structures and shapes was created by designer and architect Ettore Scotsass in 1986 for the Esprit clothing chain. The interior design in the Stollwerk building in Cologne included both the sales area and the conference and recreation rooms, including a kitchen in the basement. Over the following years and due to numerous conversions, the dynamic patterns and bold colors regrettably disappeared behind paneling and under a new floor – until two years ago, when jeweler Wempe rented the space and commissioned architect Anna Nicolas to remodel it. Gradually, the fragments of the former rebellion against the functionalism of modernism came to light. A find whose cultural value Kim-Eva Wempe, the head of the family business, fortunately appreciated. She decided to have the treasure carefully excavated, even if this delayed the renovation time many times over. In the process, some Memphis furniture and design elements were also discovered in the rooms and restored as well. Even the path to the basement is now special, leading through a staircase designed by architect Shuji Hisada and uncovered during the renovation.

The special setting is now appropriately rounded out from October 25 to November 21, 2022 with the exhibition: "Ettore Sottsass. Memphis Design 1981 - 1987." Dr. Mateo Kries, director of the Vitra Design Museum, has curated the show and selected 13 exhibits from the Memphis Group collection for it, such as the "Ashoka" lamp or the "Teodora" seating furniture. As the show will take place in parallel with two major Cologne events – Orgatec, the leading international trade fair for modern working environments, and Art Cologne, the trade fair for contemporary art – visitors to the show will now have the opportunity to make a detour to the Wempe jeweler in the city center to experience this special excerpt from the work of Ettore Sottsass. (am)

Ettore Sottsass. Memphis Design 1981 – 1987
October 25 – November 21, 2022


Am Hof 2
50667 Cologne

Opening Hours:

Monday to Friday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday: closed

The Life & Times of Ettore Sottsass