Peter Shire was the only consistent American participant in Memphis. Based in Echo Park, a neighborhood of Los Angeles, he had long been established as a ceramic artist specializing in fantastical teapots. His vivid aesthetic, formed in the sun, sea and sand of southern California, fit in beautifully with the overall direction of Memphis.
Though Shire made many successful designs for Memphis, his greatest hit for the group was undeniably the Bel Air chair, introduced in the group’s second collection in 1982. With its shark fin back and beachball foot, it immediately became a postmodern design classic and was even featured on the cover of Memphis’s first book. The stretchy, brightly colored upholstery fabric was sourced from a local umbrella manufacturer.