Retro 1970’s Interior Design: What you need to know to create the look

The space age interiors of the 1960’s gave way to the textures of shag pile carpets, cork tiles, wood paneling and hessian cladding. Brown, cream and orange, vinyl wallpapers in large overall patterns and inspiration from the twenties and thirties were mixed with new innovations to create 1970’s style.
Italian Modernists and Anti Modernists
Italian designers were the leaders. Two major streams developed the ‘Modernists’ who saw function and rationalism as most important and the ‘Anti-Modernists’ they tended to mock elitism. The designers used plastics in an innovation way for seating. This was impacted by the Oil Crisis in 1973. The designs were created in small runs and limited additions.
Chromed tubular steel Brillo stool, Zanotta bean bag
The ‘Brillo’ bar stool was designed in 1970 by Joe Colombo for Zanotta a Milanese firm. The stool was made up of vinyl (with a leather look) and a chromed tubular steel frame. Colombo also used a fiberglass base to conceal four castors. This chair is a sought after item due to the early death of Joe in 1971. The bean-bag was also created for Zanotta.
Mendini armchair and Marilyn lip sofa
Alessandro Mendini gave the famous Victorian masterpiece Thonet bentwood chair a makeover in 1978. A palette of colour with balls was added to the back of the bentwood frame. In the same year Mendini used one of the Pointillist paintings of Paul Signac to create a Baroque style armchair. Studio 65 produced the Marilyn sofa named after Marilyn Monroe’s lips. The design was a rework of the Salvador Dali’s pink satin Mae West sofa.
Polyurethane foam seat and boxing glove leather chair
The studio also designed the Attica seat and table. The seat was made from polyurethane foam in the style of a Parthenon column. The Swiss design company DeSede created a modern chaise lounge in the form of a boxing glove in leather. This chair is still made today.
Recycled drum Pop Art stool
Any Warhol’s art work and the values of Pop Art influenced Gavina a Bologna firm’s creation of the ‘Omaggio ad Andy Warhol’ stool. The aim to show designer furniture should not be elitist. The stool was made from a recycled drum screen printed with a Campbell’s classic soup label. The Sedil-Sasso designed by Piero Gilardi caused a sensation at the ‘Eurodomus 3′ exhibition in 1970 Milan. The seat has a stone like appearance rough and solid. But it is made from moulded polyurethane and is flexible and smooth.
Modular seating cardboard Wiggle stool
The German designer Burkhard Vogdherr created a modular seating system in 1971. The seating was designed in sections and covered with fabric in shades of brown. In the same year the Danish designer Verner Panton created a curvaceous seating system in chromed steel and wire. Corrugated cardboard was used by the Canadian designer Frank Gehry to create his Easy Edges series of furniture including a chair and a ‘wiggle’ stool.
If you visit the Sample Board Online blog – you will find some examples of retro 1970 style and some links.
Fire optic, track, finger-tip lighting
Lighting in the 70’s included the innovation of the dimmer switch as well as fibre optics, track lighting and low wattage lamps. The lighting was decorative as well as functional. The Colleoni lamp designed for Knoll by Vico Magistretti had the appearance of a street light with smoked-glass spheres. The Danish designer created the Panthella lamp with a mushroom shaped shade and stem like base. This lamp inspired similar designs still made today by Louis Poulsen. The acrylic like plastic Perspex could be moulded to appear crystal clear and was successfully used during this era to create sculptural geometric lighting.
Cubed lamps
The Corning Glass manufacturer developed hair like thin pure glass fibres carrying 65,000 times more information than copper wire; this lead to the craze for fibre optic lamps. During the 1980’s a copy of these lamps were made in plastic not glass fibres. Clear glass was a popular material used to form glass cubed like lamps in the 1970’s.
Videosphere and the Walkman
Moulded plastic cases housed television sets in a range of decorator colours during this era. An example of this style is the Videosphere space helmet television created by The Japanese firm JVC in the 1970’s. Tiny transistor radios in colourful plastics designed by companies like Panasonic became the rage. Sony also created the first personal stereo the Walkman.
Fondue, Magimix, La Boule
To the dining room and kitchen the Fondue and Magimix was introduced. Also popular items were the electric knife and whisk. The German firm Villeroy & Bosh launched the La Boule dinner service designed by Helen von Bosh in 1971. The nineteen piece service formed a sculpture like ball for storage. The British firm W.R. Winter created the popular Stonehenge range in 1972 and the Sun Moon and Earth plates in 1973. Martin Hunt and Colin Rawson created a range of tableware called Hornsea Pottery with a streamline design similar to 1930 design.
The colours of the 70’s
Babara Hulaniciki created clothing influenced by styles from the 1930’s in peach, beige, and chocolate brown crepes and satins. Also popular Barbara and Laura Ashley’s carpets, fabrics, wallpapers and paints in the colours and styles of clothing fashions.
Avocado and old gold continued to be popular the main trend for interiors during the 70’s; brown and cream. Chrome and polished steel were teamed with grey, brown, red, yellow and blue.
During the 1970’s timber floors once again became popular. Old floors were restored and a new range of improved timber flooring systems was released. Other sorts of flooring such as rubber in the past only used in industrial situations added to the high tech style of the 1970’s home interior.
Some Art Deco wallpaper designs were revived during the 70’s. Shiny or dull metallic wallpapers papers in incandescent and muted colours were also popular.
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Rosena MacFadzean has 5497 articles online and 3 fans
Rosena works as an interior design, retail and visual merchandising tutor for Australian College QED. She I has also worked for the Retail Traders Association of Victoria as a Retail Trainer. Rosena has a Diploma in Interior Design, Post Graduate Diploma in Public and Community Health and is a qualified trainer. She also works as an interior design consultant, creates designer art work and is the Australian partner of Sample Board Online a new cool free interior design presentation tool.
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This article was published on 2010/10/12
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