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Behold: electric BMWs with the most ’80s colour schemes ever

Custom i8 and i3 remind us that it’s hip to be square

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Go ahead and picture the most ’80s furniture you can imagine. Yes, it’s likely not what you expected to do when you decided to visit TopGear.com, but bear with us. 

If you’re like us, a contrasting mishmash of vibrant colours and a melange of circles, squares and arches popped into your head. But why is this important?

Well, this entire design direction is thanks to the Memphis Group, a Milanese design house that did designs for your, um, house. 

For a brief period from 1981 to 1991, the Italian designers brought forth a plethora of postmodern technicolour. The clean, simple shapes and lurid colour combinations – plucked from the pages of 1950s Americana, Art Deco and beyond – were the perfect antitheses to the excessive, heavy and drab designs that would have otherwise dominated the 1980s.

If we wanted to play ‘I spend my weekends at the Tate’, we could say that the brash single-mindedness of Memphis Group’s designs was simpatico with the zeitgeist of an increasingly impromptu and casual generation, unfettered by concerns of timelessness and almost wilfully embracing ephemera. 

Or, in other words, the designs reflected the times. Maybe not where you grew up, but certainly where you wanted to grow up. 

Even now, the peacockish colour combos inspire and delight designers like Christian Dior and Karl Lagerfeld.  

Garage Italia, a Milanese car design house, has celebrated the length and breadth of Memphis Group’s impact with the i8 and i3 you see here. For your edification, we’ve included an example of Memphis design as well, so you can see how well Garage Italia has nailed it.  

So, you might be wondering, how does BMW fit in with all of this? Well, we’d argue that the technological tour de force that is the i8 – perhaps the first electric-focused supercar – was as revolutionary a leap as Memphis Group’s “shotgun wedding between Bauhaus and Fisher-Price” designs. And there are probably other reasons – including the fact that they’ve teamed up with Garage Italia for a ‘Crossfade’ and ‘Futurism Edition’. 

So, if you braved our wafting prose and read this far, what do you think? Hankering for an American Psycho-approved BMW?

Photo of Memphis Design: Zanone

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