What makes the Retro furniture style so popular and how it developed.
Retro furniture style has spread widely in Germany, England and North America in the years 1950 – approx. 1965. At the present time, it enjoys great popularity again and gets reinterpreted by many designers. Companies like Walter Knoll or Rolf Benz are known to use this style as inspiration.
The retro furniture style has its origins in the classic Bauhaus style. It has emerged from the need for high-quality furniture at an affordable price with a “yes” for comfort.
With new milling techniques in the 60s and 70s, furniture with perforated holes or even holes as a decorative design element in metal fronts followed. More and more, the chair has been reduced to its function. The backrests were shorter – at most shoulder-length and padded armrests were left out, so that the furniture with its filigree legs despite a comfortable upholstery received a very light overall look.
Key characteristics of the style
The characteristics of retro style furniture of the 50s and 70s were initially in the form of relatively clear and simple furniture base constructions. Depending on the piece of furniture, these were either covered with new cover techniques (e.g. longitudinal seams or transverse seams in the backrest), or the materials were mixed so that a cabinet had metal feet with a wooden structure, often with drawers or fronts of different colors.
The mix of materials was also a focus with tables and side tables: a solid wooden or metal construction with a gilded metal frame on which a heavy marble slab was put: the mix of materials was a trendsetter in retro furniture design.
Cloth covers were muted, e.g. musty yellow, sea green, beige and brown, but also a muted orange appeared in the 50s – 60. Popular types of wood were red-tinted tones, such as cherry, walnut, oak and beech.
Flooring had clear geometric structures. The chessboard pattern in black and white was trend and linoleum was used as a new uncomplicated covering in many shades and patterns. Wallpapers were rather reserved in the fifties. Often they were heavy fabric wall coverings with small floral patterns, sometimes with a fine silk shimmer but also mottled almost plain wallpapers were typical of the 50s – as well as the furniture in muted colors.
Also novelties were metal knobs (spherical, cuboid, conical) in contrasting colors to the rest (frequently gold-brass with black), often matching the mostly somewhat higher furniture feet made of wood or wood-metal combination.