Saturday, February 19, 2011

Retro Inspired Designs

"Retro-inspired" designs are currently flooding design spreads in various print forms. Not surprisingly, since it is one of most aestheticly pleasing, and the simplest to execute. In the article, Elements of Style from a recent issue of Family Circle, Petra Guglielmetti shows three different kinds of "styles" for design novices to try their hand. At first glance they look distinctive, but realistly they incorporate many of the same elements.

The first may seem the furthest from retro-inspired: Contemporary Cool. At it's most simplistic, contemporary cool is mostly clean lines and a minimalistic approach to accessorization. This minimalistic look, however, must also incorporate a sense of symmetry, incorporating architectural patterns that attract the eye.

The following is an example of these elements, derived from a 1920's inspired design.

+Shine, metallic ie (lamps and mirrors)
+Solid colored furniture in bold colors
+graphic patterns, and vivid colors
+uncluttered space

These are all imperative elements of "modern" or "contemporary" design, but we must remember where those design terms derive from. Twenties-style, involving both minimalist, sleek elements, with the whimsicality of retro;the design guru can have the best of both worlds.

"Retro-inspired" usually conjures up a more "artistic" bent. Another take on retro, involves the more "Eclectic Mix". "Using furniture from various time periods, with rustic textures, and global antique look with a cool twist."

The following is a perfect visual example of a quirky, eclectic, artistic, bohemian, and again, a very whimsical look.

+handcrafted woodwork furniture; Victorian, Grassroots
+Clashy, Cluttered, Ethnic, Exotic
+artwork, pictures, wallpaper; mix-and-matchy
+loosely defined color pallette,
+deep hues; burgundy, reds, blues, oranges, oriental colors;patterns
+hanging lamps, faux finishes, heavy upolstery

Many designers feel that a feel of sophistication is lost in this very DIY, haphazard type of design. They trade the very thrifty/hand-me-down look for a more
elegant, tailored look. These peices can be found in thrift stores-but not as-is. They must be worked-with diligently until they look new. This design is also retro-inspired, very popular in the last sixties and derived mostly from European designs.
You will see that the following design looks very "French".

+Sexy and comfortable-very popular in boudoirs and sitting rooms
+ Do away with stuffiness, everything should have a very "young" look.
+Refined textures: silk, linen, velvet.
+Neat, Symmetrical, and Modern.
+function and feel; pretty and polished.

The three designs discussed, have similar elements, but are all drastically different to some degree. They are all, in fact, inspired by previous design paradigms, despite their very modern look.

Here are two examples of how all of those elements are combined, which is an effect used frequently in the most popular designs.


  1. Interesting post; I live with a Contemporary Cool guy and I'm more thrifty n' artsy(okay eclectic)lol
    I can manage fine if I have candles,plants, throw pillows and an art space!

    I love design...I so want to redo the FROG(furnished room over garage). It is more like a TOAD-Total Obscure Art Disaster. Hubby n' I can't agree. No matter what I do; he doesn't like it. It is a craft room...tucked over the garage...not an media room. I think he really wants the space, but he has the whole garage!

  2. everyone needs their own space-I say fight to the death for your TOAD/FROG!