To design in a retro style is to remix aspects of a previous style.  Many styles of the past have successfully been reinvented time and time again. A popular retro style is the style created in the 1950’s rock ‘n’ rock era. The 1960’s became known as the swinging 60’s. Interior décor and clothing fashions can be intermingle to create bold trendy statements.

If you would like to create a 1950’s look hot pink was the colour of the decade. Italian couture began to rival French couture. Pucci and Simonetta were influenced by the colours of the Renaissance. Fath used Honan silks in hot pink. Turquoise became a sensation after 1951. The Germany Company Bayer developed the first colour fast turquoise dye Alcian. Full skirts in bold colours were a hallmark of the rock ‘n’ roll era.

Interior design

The technological advances of the age let to advances in fabrics and finishes. Orange, pistachio and kingfisher blue furnishing fabrics very much in vogue. The colours were used juxtaposition (side by side) and can appear gaudy to some people.

Scandinavian designers combined natural and synthetic materials. The colours used reflected the Nordic landscape. Linoleum tops in primary colours were used on Birchwood tables and chairs for children. Eero Saarinen’s pedestal chair was created for Knoll in 1955. Alvar Aalto a Finish architect designed his famous cantilevered chair. The designer Eames created the Sofa Compact in 1954 and the Eames lounge chair and ottoman in 1956. The Ant chair was designed by Arne Jacobsen in 1953. George Nelson also created his famous Marshmallow chair and a storage system.

The fabrics of the decade included a fabric called Circles by Alexander Girard, ‘Double Triangles’ a fabric designed by Alexander and Girard Willaim Pahlmann designed ‘Still Trees’. Frank Lloyd Wright also designed ‘Imperial Triangle’ which was reproduced by F. Schumacher in 1956.

The 1950’s saw the development of new plastics, stream proof paints, wallpapers, and flooring. Velcro was also developed. The 1950’s was a glorious time for design. A new optimism was emerging after the depression of the 1930’s and the devastation of the World War in the 1940’s. If you visit the Creative Buzzing blog you can find some examples of 1950’s style

What was hot in the stylish 50’s Interior Design?

Bright pinks        Orange                 Gold                      Reds      Turquoise            Beige

Coloured enamel kitchenware

Linoleum top tables in primary colours

Designer furniture

Subdued fabric patterns

The Fashion Colours of 1950’s

Primary colours                 Hot pink               Very hot pink     Turquoise            Kingfisher blue

Green                                   Lilac                  Pale maize          Amethyst            Geranium

Clothing styles

Matching colours

Billowing wraps

Semi fitted coats

Strapless boned bodice evening dresses


Taffeta                                 Satin

The swinging 60’s

A new range of cheap brightly coloured cotton fabrics and an increase in synthetic fabrics produced an explosion of mass produced fashion items in the 1960’s. Drip dried non iron clothing became the rage. As did coats and boots in brightly coloured plastic. Mary Quant was one of the leaders of the swinging London style, the mini skirt which conquered the world. Trouser suits became popular from New York, to Paris and Rome.

The Italian collections of the time were highly coloured, stripes and knits. It was at this time blue jeans became popular and were worn by both sexes and people of all ages and went on to become a fashion classic. The panty hose replaced nylon stockings. They worked well with the mini skirt and came in many different colours and patterns. Visit the Sample Board Online blog and find examples of the 1960’s style.

Khaki military style jackets were worn with jeans or white (bell bottomed) sailor style trousers. The hippy look dominated the fashions of the late sixties. The styles were a mingling of native peasant costumes with beadwork and chamois leather. Mondrian paintings, films and ethic dress influenced fashion. Zandra Rhodes colourful psychedelic patterns in fabrics and wallpapers were contrasted by the two tone Laura Ashley designs in brown, pale blue, green and cream for clothing, curtains and covers.

Spanish architect Paco Rabanne invaded the fashion scene with a futuristic style influenced by the space race. He designed mini dresses made of geometric shapes riveted and clasped together with metal, leather or plastics. Verner Panton a Swiss architect designed the first plastic chair with no joints in 1960. This led to the development of synthetic moulded furniture in geometric shapes. Solid moulded foam cubes in bright colours were also produced. The main feature of the 1960’s interior style; playful and casual.

The Swinging 1960’s

Colourful ethic fabrics

Oriental beads

Colourful jewellery

Muticoloured Afghan dresses

Indonesian batik prints

North African caftans

Nehru shirts

Arabic djellabas (a traditional long, loose-fitting outer robe)

Silver jewellery inset with amber and other semi precious stones

Kohl eye makeup

Red Henna hair colouring

New colour consciousness

Peasant skirts

Embroidered blouses

Boleros decorated with ribbons

High red boots

Patterned headscarves

Body painting

Mini skirt

Indian prints

Black and white geometric designs

1960’s Interior Design

Floors, ceilings and walls painted in brilliant colours


Wall hangings

Multicoloured Indian prints

Sofa’s, divans and floors covered with oriental carpets and rugs

Abundance of colours available

Plastic chairs

Moulded foam furniture

Cubed style furniture

You can create your retro style in a number of ways. Create a colourful 60’s hippy pad using oriental carpets and rugs. Or a space age room with bold coloured moulded foam furniture. Psychedelic wall paper designs can be used to jazz up any room and add a touch of 1960’s style. You can recreate a 1950’s or 1960’s room using a number of items and colours from the 50’s or 60’s. Or select one or two items from one of the eras and use the item as a starting point of the design for your retro room. The sky is the limit it is also an eco friendly way to decorate as many items from the 1950’s and 1960’s are available at second hand dealers, op shops and on ebay.


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