1950s Interiors Re-Discovered

Often described as the start of the consumer era, the fifties were, in many ways, a decade-long reaction to the austerity of the forties. Rationing and the resulting lack of resources had given the furnishings and decor of the war years a certain simple functionality and people were more than ready for a little luxury and whimsy. There has, over recent years, been a renaissance of interest in the mid-century years, with the interior design of the era attracting much attention. In this short piece, we look at the fifties and some of its most iconic style statements.

1950s Interiors Re-Discovered

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The 50s House

The rather drab utilitarianism of the forties gave householders a real longing for light, bright colours and space. Accordingly, rooms were often open-plan and decorated in striking primary colours. Convenience was also key and the decade saw the first wave of folding chairs, tables and stackable furniture. The fitted kitchen made its début. This was also an era of extraordinary scientific achievements and soft furnishings, and draperies often reflected this with futuristic and geometric designs appearing in many homes and manufacturers making extensive use of the new materials of the time, such as PVC, melamine, plastics and vinyl.

Icons of the Era

Any discussion of the fifties is incomplete without a discussion of the legendary Charles and Ray Eames. This husband and wife team is generally acknowledged to have made some of the most important contributions to design in the past century. Certainly, many of the pieces that we now consider to be the very essence of the era were either created or influenced by the talented duo.

For instance, Eames chairs – original or reproduction – remain hugely popular to this day. As Catherine Ince, curator of an Eames exhibition in London, says, they are “a perfect balance of tradition and modernity.” Reproduction Eames pieces are easily available from numerous sites like Pash Living and others.

Eames reproduction furniture has hit the headlines recently because a new copyright law threatens to raise their price significantly over the next year. There is naturally a great deal of dismay about this development as it will affect many of the most iconic designs of the past seventy years. Experts predict that there will be huge demand for these particular pieces in the coming months as connoisseurs try to acquire them before the law comes into effect.

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