Sep 05, 2006 | by Wendy Weinert
We've all seen the return of retro fashion - today's styles sport bell bottoms and hip huggers, tosses in some Harvest Gold and Avocado Green (although renamed to "Burnished Wheat" and "Dried Thyme") and gives new life to looks many of us swore 20 years ago that we'd never wear again. Old styles with a new twist are being incorporated into more than just fashion and clothing; retro style is expanding into home décor and lighting design.
The revival of retro style tweaks the original design to bring it up to date with modern variations. Elements of the original design, such as the fun shapes of a 70's pop art lamp, are combined with today's colors for a new take on a distinctive style. The shape and feel may remain the same while patterns and colors are taken from a contemporary palette.
Home Décor gone Retro
A few years ago, we were seeing oversized everything. From the ubiquitous "chair and a half" to enormous great rooms and soaring ceilings, home décor was about filling the ever-expanding homes that were being built all across the country.
Now we are seeing a return to coziness and warmth - an appreciation for the feel of small, intimate spaces, the richness of opulent finishes and the comfort of warm colors. Interiors are becoming less cluttered and fussy, with a simple focus on shape and style.
The 70's and Beyond
Retro style is more than just a return to the far-out, groovy styles of the 60's and 70's. Retro style embraces a return to "modern classics" from a number of eras, including the craftsmanship of Tiffany-style lamps and the inspired design of a Mies van der Rohe Barcelona chair.
Pre-war furnishings with cleaner lines and modernist styling are mixing seamlessly with pieces on the market today, such as Eames bentwood chairs and the Eileen Gray screen. While style trends do reoccur, they're never exactly the same as the original. Materials change, manufacturing processes change and we change - our experiences and sensitivities create a different environment from the original era.
So why is retro style so incredibly popular? Many of the original pieces and furnishings were not the most useable or comfortable when they were brand new - why bring them back again?
It can be a backlash of living in a technological age, making us willing to sacrifice a little comfort to regain the aesthetics and look of a different era. It can also be a reaction to the uncertainty of the times, creating a longing for the comfort of a simpler time.
Retro style can evoke the nostalgia of rummaging through Grandma's attic and finding the lamp that you remember seeing when you were a child, or the fun of finding an old dressing table from the 50's gathering dust in a storage shed.
Whatever the reason, retro style offers a wide selection of options for decorating, whether you're choosing vintage antiques or picking new pieces with a retro sensibility. Combining style with simplicity, retro is a return to smaller scale, appreciation of simpler shapes and getting down to the substance of design.