Memphis Group designs fill this Copenhagen collector’s home

Last year, Memphis celebrated its 40th anniversary, and its unique blend of kitsch and elegance is alive and well here

memphis group home copenhagen living room
Christoffer Regild/Living Inside

Mikkel Bjergsø, who started hip craft brewery Mikkeller from the small kitchen in his Vesterbro apartment back in 2003, is obsessed with experimental combinations of hops, malt and yeast. But it’s his other big obsession, with the designs of the Memphis group, that is apparent the moment you walk into his new Copenhagen home.

‘Mikkel does nothing half-heartedly and becomes very preoccupied with the things that interest him,’ explains Caroline Engelgaar, who together with Mie Albæk Nielsen with whom she founded design studio Femmes Régionales, was tasked with integrating his vast collection into a modern interior.

‘It’s rare to start a project with such a strong visual set of constraints,’ she admits, ‘but it has been an exciting challenge.’

memphis group home copenhagen kitchen
Christoffer Regild/Living Inside

Everywhere you look there are instantly recognisable pieces from the influential design movement. The famous ‘Casablanca’ shelving unit by Memphis founder Ettore Sottsass stands at the top of the stairs and, in the living room, a ‘Big Sur’ sofa by Peter Shire is joined by chairs created by the likes of Michele De Lucchi and George Sowden.

The imposing ‘Stanhope’ bed by Michael Graves even makes an appearance. This seemingly modest two-storey, 225-square-metre flat is like walking into a dedicated museum – except here you are encouraged to sit on the exhibits!

memphis group home copenhagen study office
Christoffer Regild/Living Inside

The intention of the Memphis movement was to subvert the status quo with its use of irregular forms and eye-popping colour. So, of course, what makes these designs so appealing is also what could, potentially, make them difficult to live with. For Caroline, the key to making them work in a modern home was to focus on colour and materiality.

‘Memphis furniture does not go unnoticed,’ she admits with a smile. ‘So the task was to get the rest of the interior to balance it. We added warmer tones and matte surfaces to create an environment for the expressive pieces.’

memphis group home copenhagen ettore sottsass
Christoffer Regild/Living Inside

What she has achieved is a setting in which they can shine. The contemporary kitchen is the perfect example of this palette. Picking out hues found in the surrounding design icons, it’s loud enough to stand alongside those pieces but sleek enough to set itself apart. The walls are kept white, with the only pops of colour aside from the furniture coming from a playful teal banister and the blue ceiling in the bedroom.

memphis group home copenhagen bedroom
Christoffer Regild/Living Inside

‘No decisions in this home have been made solely for practical reasons,’ says Caroline, adding that the experience has been ‘unique and liberating’. This is a collection that is sure to grow – in fact pieces have already been added since the project began, with Mikkel spotting new gems at auction all the time – but this home is now ready for anything.

A giant cactus that acts as a coat stand? Of course, why not? It’s the perfect fit. Memphis is all about design for the fearless, you see. And there’s no time like now to start being a little braver. mikkeller.com; femmesregionales.com


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