What makes design from the past so exciting? The mid-century modern furniture that dominated design in the 1950s was swept to the side in the 60s to welcome the space age and a polypropylene-plastic forward-looking future.
Here’s a quick guide to furniture design from the 1960s.
The Space Race
The Space Age is that bit in time where the Space Race, and space exploration spurred a surge in futurism and fascination with space. Science fiction such as Star Trek, Dr Who and The Time Tunnel were beamed into living rooms. This made an impact on 1960s interior design too. Pods and capsule-shaped furniture items became prevalent, mimicking the shapes of spaceships and rockets. Some examples of this are the retro-looking free-standing cone fireplaces, and lighting styles too such as the lava lamp.
Flower Power and Psychedelia
The late 60s kicked off the flower power movement in opposition to the Vietnam War. 1960s furniture design incorporated lots of textiles and wallpaper that embraced these wacky designs.
Polypropylene is a type of plastic, first polymerized in the 50s. A decade on, the use of polypropene surged. It became a cheap, strong material favored by manufacturers for furniture. In the United Kingdom, an instantly familiar design is Robin Day’s Polyprop chair, which has been used in schools, village halls and factories since it began production in the early 60s.
Danish Furniture, Panton and Iconic Chairs
Another stackable creation is the Panton Chair, first produced in 1965. Made from polyester and strengthened with fibreglass, it was the first all plastic chair designed in one piece. Over the years they tested other materials, making the chair more durable and resilient.
As for statement chairs, in 1960 Eero Saarinen was granted a patent for his Tulip Chair. Arne Jacobsen’s Egg Chair craze took hold, and Eero Aarnio’s Ball Chair and Bubble Chairs were a huge hit. These chairs help set the scene for the 60s.
From space race to flower power, the swinging sixties moved swiftly through trends and design ideas. If you’re looking for more 60s style inspiration, check out this Sacramento Home Tour that evokes the era, or read more about the Brutalist Architecture that shaped our cities.
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