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I love these books. Many of them can still be bought really cheaply at car boots, charity shops etc. No one seems to really value them. They are full of wonderful period details. Whenever I find one it’s made my day. Admittedly that could appear to be quite a sad statement, but who cares. A great slice of 1960s/1970s interior decor. Thanks!
I wonder why things are so boring now too. Maybe some sort of Martha Stewart American family values whitewashing?? Not sure. Maybe everyone is less expressive today and more concerned with seeming “tasteful”. Hmmmm….
Bree, I think you’re right. Because I’m sure aesthetics are never random! I feel as if I’m seeing that family values Americana thing all over the design blogs too, a sort of updated 19th C traditional style with lots of little framed illustrations of girls in bonnets and birdies on branches (Etsy, Domino). Even when you see midcentury modern, it has a certain puritanical quality – it’s beautiful but it’s definitely the 50s over the 60s. What happened to the adventurousness and sensuality of the 60s and 70s? That may have been a blip, historically speaking, but I always want to lobby to bring it back… the more purism or cuteness I see in decor the more I want to counter it with something this groovy and confident.
John – My design partner Sarah found this decor encyclopedia, and it’s quite amazing. There must be about 15 volumes and what fascinates me is that in 1970 it would take 15 exhaustive volumes to document what was in fact a very new design aesthetic (late 50s, 60s). You get a sense of how much excitement they had about it, how much material they felt that had. It’s a decade of explosion. It’s fun to pore through because it opens a view onto an aesthetic that contains an entirely different world view. Of course many of the rooms are just apocalyptically bad (see my Flickr) but in a way they’re just as interesting because they’re so imaginative, so fantastical, so outward-looking, and so bold. I totally understand how finding this stuff can make your day.
I think perhaps there was much more of a ‘make your own interior decor’ ethos in the 1960s and 1970s. Styles were much more to do with personal tastes and ideas, and less about how professional or finished it looked.
Many seem tied into one or two styles today, minimal and de-cluttered seem to be about it really. Much of this, and I can only speak for the UK, has to do with presenting your home as an attractive potential investment, rather than a personal space. De-cluttering has much more to do with de-personalising than creating space in your life.
Of course, now in the UK we are starting to talk about turning your house into a home. Programmes are starting to turn up on the TV telling us that because there is no housing market at the moment, why not turn that potential investment opportunity into a personal or family home!
Perhaps we should all take a look through these old interior books and magazines and get some hints on how to live a real life, rather than one that has some investment potential.
There’s a sense of what I would call the experimental in its true form: what would happen if we put these things together in a room? Maybe something interesting. Done with a sense of confidence, as you mention, which is a key point. The decorators are trying out a bunch of fantastic new materials and objects and references and scales and are not concerned particularly about getting it right, but more with having fun while doing it. There’s a temporary quality to them as well. They look a bit like stage sets. The next day a room might look completely different. Interestingly, that period was a very exciting time in theater as well, all that fantastic updating and reworking of classicism and breaking taboos.