Good design never really goes out of style, no matter what era it is from. Yes, every age has its kitsch elements, but look past those and it is possible to find furnishings that are timeless in their design.
Here is a decade-by-decade look at what the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s brought with it in terms of furniture trends, and what has stuck with us to this day…
Clichéd though it may sound, the 60s really were a revolutionary time, and this is particularly true of interior design during that period. Furniture became affordable and readily available as mass-production took hold, which offered more opportunity for individual expression. The by-words for 60s design were ‘experimentation’, ‘non-conformity’ and ‘democracy’. There were no longer any restrictions on what kind of furniture it was possible to have in your home, and Scandinavian designs, in particular, made a huge breakthrough in the 60s.
One of the 60s’ biggest names was David Nightingale Hicks, known for his use of bright colours, contemporary art, and for fusing modern and antique furnishings. Other classic pieces include Verner Panton’s S Chair, Joe Cesare Colombo’s portable storage system and Anna Castelli Ferrieri’s Componibili Units.
The 70s has a bad reputation when it comes to style, with many mocking the decade’s gauche colour schemes (particularly its love of the colour orange) and horrible wallpaper. However, one can look at the 70s through a different lens, and see it as 60s psychedelia turned up a notch. Many 70s staples, from geometric shapes and floral prints through to flowing shapes and open-planned living, are very much in style now.
Post-modernism, soft pastel colours and sleek, ‘preppy’ styles came to the fore in the 1980s. Gone were the bright, plastic pieces from the 60s and 70s, and instead, a huge welcome was made to more conservative, antique looks. Japanese design also had a significant impact on many interiors of the day, and this influence can be seen today with the motto “less is more”.
Whilst the 1980s had its share of minimalist looks, the 1990s made minimalism the de rigueur form of interior design (who could forget the Absolutely Fabulous episode ‘New Best Friend’, in which Eddy clears out her house to please her minimalist-loving friend?). Whites and beiges were all the rage, and thrown away were the colourful designs of the previous three decades. Yet, for all the minimalism of the early- to mid-90s, the late 90s were an abundance of floral patterns and pinewood furniture.
Much of the 90s was spent eschewing the radical and post-modernist designs of the two decades past, and there was a return to the idea of “form & functionality”, which was a major part of the 60’s interior design philosophy.
The noughties brought with it a dramatic change in technology, and designers began to take this onboard, creating items of furniture that could better accommodate all the high-tech gadgets we now had in our homes.
However, these technological leaps forward also led many to start thinking about the impact it was having upon the planet, so it is no wonder that 1960s/70s-inspired ‘green furniture’ made from recycled and reclaimed materials saw a resurgence during this time. Resistance against our throwaway society, and the continued popularity of flat pack furniture, led many to seek out well-made and vintage furniture.