This spring we visited three important design shows in London; Mary Quant, Chelsea Flower Show and Clerkenwell Design. Each show has its own unique look, but with a contemporary throwback to bygone eras. Inspirations from the swinging 60’s and groovy 70’s reflect the popular adage that good design never goes out of fashion, which is ever-more evident from the latest interior and garden design trends.
Sweeping bell bottoms, hippies with flowers in their hair and groovy disco moves take us back to a time when the internet didn’t yet exist and people had to stand up and leave their seats in order to change the TV channel.
The 60s and 70s were a time of experimentation, and the younger generation paved the way for a new design freedom. This revolution spread throughout the arts from fashion and interiors to architecture and music.
One of the hallmarks of the 60s and 70s interior design was the explosion of bold warm colours, including striking red and orange. These colours were often fused together to create a very strong atmosphere, one that inspired conversation and activity. Warm colours were often paired with neutral earthy shades such as beige or off-white, especially on the walls and furniture.
Much like fashion, interior design, colours, furniture, patterns, and gardens change to reflect the styles of the time. And just like the ‘little black dress’, there are some great time pieces worth investing in which will always hold their value and look as good tomorrow as they do today.
Furniture design in the 60s and 70s was a mixture of Bauhaus influenced rectilinear shapes and softer rounded, curved furniture, including sofas, chairs, coffee tables and beds. Timeless furnishings include pieces by well-known designers such as Ray and Charles Eames, Le Corbusier and Verner Panton, the influential Danish designer who all still have their work in production today. Current contemporary designers such Tom Dixon, Sacha Lakic for Roche Bobois, Santorus and Porto Romano, bring a modern take to furniture and lighting design.
Geometric patterns were often introduced to balance the rounded elements of a room and these can be incorporated into any part of the design, including occasional side tables, shelving, screens and bookcases. There is a strong revival of bold prints and geometric patterns in fabrics, furnishings and wallcoverings. A design with true staying power, geometrics are an ever-popular choice for the home, regularly featured in high street brand’s and couture collections year on year. From the fabulously contemporary to classically traditional, these patterns traverse the ages and you’re just as likely to find a geometric print inspired by ancient Greek patterns as you are the sharp futuristic lines of the 21stcentury.
Artwork also reflects fashion and trends. Photography in particular is a good investment and doesn’t have to break the bank. Look out for limited editions and classic images, by collectable names such as Slim Aarons or dig out pieces that tell a story, from a cherished photograph of your childhood to a family momento. Artwork makes experimenting with room design simple as it is easy to move around.
This was the era when the first men landed on the moon and space travel captured the imagination of the general public. Science fiction concepts popularised interior design ideas, such as Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey, James Bond and other sci-fi films which in turn influenced how people decorated their homes.
You can bring the unmistakable style of that era into your home today with contemporary retro ideas. Incorporating old and new can give your home a unique look that’s still contemporary but with a nod to the past, making it look original and creative.
Bringing the outside in. Connecting with nature in the home
It is well documented that being around nature can improve happiness and well-being, and incorporating nature related themes within the home can provide enjoyment all year-round. No matter where we live, the list of innovative and attainable ways to invite the outdoors in, is expansive: From living walls and natural materials to hammock beds, feature windows and structural glass walls.
Refresh and restore
In addition to its aesthetic qualities, researchers have revealed that exposure to nature can benefit our mental health, including decreasing stress and relieving anxiety and depression.
Natural environments have restorative properties that are especially beneficial in today’s information-overloaded world. When we engage with nature, whether by walking in it, tending to it, or simply gazing at it, our biological system gets to rest and restore itself.
An extension of nature
Some innovative architectural approaches include building designs around existing natural elements such as trees and streams.
Other more practical approaches can include incorporating a full wall of folding glass doors, or simply replacing an existing door or window with a larger one. This is an effective way to invite the outdoors in, not only because it floods the inside space with natural light, but it also provides a seamless transition between the two spaces.