The 1970’s – a time of groundbreaking style or “the decade that taste forgot”? Such an era of extravagant excess provokes strong opinions over interior design, but whatever your views, there is no doubting that it turned heads. So let’s salute the freedom of expression and playful rebellion of Seventies chic.
The decade was one of extremes, veering from the carefree optimism of the ‘love and peace’ counterculture of the 1960’s to a time of austerity, recession and unemployment. It was the era of the individual – a time of women’s liberation, sexual freedom, punk anarchy and disco hedonism.
From hippy to heavy metal to punk and new wave, the music of the decade was a fantastic journey into the unknown, pushing sonic boundaries with imagination and inspiration. Jimi Hendrix was a frequent visitor to the Cumberland Hotel (often leaving it in a poor state). In a recent homage the hotel completed a full-on suite renovation in daring 70’s style.
This fearless, experimental attitude naturally also left its mark on fashion and interior design. With more and more people becoming homeowners, DIY and interior design soared in popularity.
Seventies style was dominated by bright colours, graphic prints, geometric shapes and unusual materials. It was a time of clashing colours, ‘mix and match’ fabrics, textures and shapes.
The colour palette ranged from the hippy, earth tones of cream, rust, sand, harvest gold and avocado, to the disco delights of silver and gold. But if there was one colour which dominated, it was orange. Orange was everywhere – on the walls, furniture and floors – creating a warm, welcoming vibe to the family home or bachelor pad. This colour is also representative of communication, creativity, optimism, confidence, adventure, spontaneity and freedom.
• Bold graphic prints
• Geometric shapes and lines (eg. hollow square table lamps and geometric patterned fabrics)
• Tubular chrome and stainless steel furniture
• Clashing primary colours
• White – used as a contrast colour
• Mix and match fabrics – for cushions, curtains, rugs and upholstery
• Shag rugs – deep pile/heavy fabrics
• Bright coloured furniture
• Moroccan and Indian-inspired decorative pieces, inspired by the Hippy Trail
• Orange – usually contrasted with brown and harvest gold
• Avocado green – my parents had a few bold bathroom suites!
• Metallic legged furniture
• Low glass tables
• Funky pendant lights
• Flocked or stylized/patterned wallpaper
• Swing seats
• Bold flower prints
• Disco-style silver and gold
• Stacked stone fireplaces and stone walls and exposed brick
• Sunken living rooms and floating staircases
For more style ideas, see Terence Conran’s 1974 book ‘The House Book’ and ‘70s Style & Design’ by Dominic Lutyens and Kirsty Hislop.
Boogie nights - the Lauren Headboard by Ascension Latorre is everything ‘disco’ and makes a fabulous style statement.
The Blob Floor Lamp by Gino Carollo can cast light in any direction and is ideal for showcasing artwork. The lampshades are available in white glass, bronze or grey, with white interior. Manufactured by Arketipo.
Featuring a swivel base in stainless steel, the Gioconda Swivel Armchair captures the Seventies vibe with its multi-coloured fabric. Other patterns are also available. Constructed by Creazioni, producers of fine traditional furniture with a twist.
The Rosebush Coffee Table reflects the adventurous flavour of the Seventies, with its exotic lacquered marble top and organic brass branches. Created by Ginger & Jagger - known for their unique designs inspired by nature and Africa.
The Babylon Crackle Table Lamp features a smooth silk shade and crackle glaze finish, typical of the textural contrast present in Seventies style. Designed by Heathfield & Co, founded in 1977.
The Deep Sea Rectangular Coffee Table is part of a collection of low tables and bookcases in laminated and thermo welded transparent extra-light glass, by Glas Italia. The transparent glass is available in grey or blue, and adds a Seventies touch to any interior.
The Lotus Corner Sofa by Manzoni e Tapinassi is ideal for lounging and laid-back listening. This sectional sofa allows the units to be combined in several ways, according to individual tastes. The metal frame is available in micaceous brown stained or galvanised titanium.
Reflecting the individualism of the Seventies, the decorative corner patches can be personalized to taste, through a choice of matching or contrasting fabrics and leathers. Produced by Arketipo.
The Miss Malice Chair by Arketipo has a retro styling, while the roundness of the leather padded seat provides a soft, cosy seating.