Retro Furniture, The History behind the Room Schemes.(1920-1960)

Documentaries are an important use of information because they relate a visual message to a audience that may be looking for  educational insight.  The documentary that I recommend is Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman. A documentary film by: Eric Bricker.    Julius Shulman was an architectual photographer whose images brought modern architecture to the American mainstream. To understand what this documentary is about, I have provided a trailer .

With the insight that Julius Shulman gave to architecture, he showed us how influential different decades can be on interiors.

1920-1930

During the 1920’s, the influence of the International Style movement was emerging in interior decor.  The movement had a lot of influence from the world renowned designer/ architect Phillip Johnson. His influence on the movement stated that the new style would change the way people looked at “modern” furniture and design because it must follow three simple rules.  These rules are:

1. The expression of volume rather than mass.

2. The emphasis on balance rather than preconceived symmetry.

3. The expulsion of applied ornament.

Remember during this time in the world, we were entering into the machine age.   The purpose of the International Style design was to simplify form, incorporate new materials that were emerging into design, such as glass, steel, and concrete, and take out ornamental designs within the interior space.  This was a dramatic change in look because most people still thought of ornament as a way to show elegance and status.  When you entered into a space you now saw flat walls, but they may have held a more untraditional style of construction.  I have provided some pictures to help you see what a modern interior from the 1920’s would have looked like.

Villa Savoye by Le Corbusier

Exterior of Villa Savoye by: Le Corbusier. 1929. Poissy, France

Interior of Villa Savoye. Featuring the ideas of the International Style Movement.1929. Poissy, France.

Schroder House by Gerrit Rietreld

Exterior of Schroder House by Gerrit Rietreld. 1924. Utrecht, Netherlands.

Interior of Schroder House by Gerrit Rietreld featuring the Interiornational Style Movement.

Glass House by Phillip Johnson

Exterior of Glass House by Phillip Johnson.,1949. “The concept of a Glass House set in a landscape with views as its real “walls” had been developed by many authors in the German Glasarchitektur drawings of the 1920s, and already sketched in initial form by Johnson’s mentor Mies Van der Rohe.” (Wikipedia)

Interior of Glass House by Phillip Johnson.

The International Style movement changed the way we looked at  modern homes. It incorporated the ideas of  “form follows function”  but displayed it in a simplified form.  The movement introduced many iconic  furniture styles, such as: the Barcelona chair, the LC4 Chaise Lounge, and the LC1 Sling Chair.   Each of these pieces of furniture is still in high demand because of it’s retro contemporary style.

1930- 1940

During the 1930’s, the movement of Art Deco was evolving.   Although this movement began in the 1920’s, it had influences that bled into the 1930’s, and continued far after.  The movement was based on geometric lines and symmetrical shapes.   It represented elegance, glamour, functionality, and modernity.   Pulling influences from the Egyptians and Aztecs, the Art Deco movement was the “modern” design for the 1930’s.  Pastel color schemes  were often incorporated within each room.  One reason for this was to show how modern homes can feel cozy and didn’t have to be stark.  A typical Art Deco home may have looked something like this.

1930’s Armstrong Kitchen Furniture

Contemporary Art Deco Room

Elegant Art Deco Room

1940’s-1950’s

The era of the 1940’s was a bit different than other era’s because it was affected by WWII.  The beginning of the first half of 1940’s was somewhat stagnate. The reason was that any extra income  coming into the household, was reserved for contribution towards the war.  From 1939-1945  many homes were decorated using pieces from the 1930’s.   This made decorating homes more economical and political.  The idea behind most rooms’  schemes during this time, was to make them appear more innocent, sanitary, traditional, and sunny.  Many people used things that had sentimental value, and reminded them of their patriotism.   During this era there was  lots of Hollywood Glamour mixed  in the decor  that added that punch of elegance during a time when money was scarce.  When the war was ending  and factories re-opened for production, the room schemes consisted of floral patterns with pastel colors incorporated into them.   If  bold colors were incorporated in the room scheme, the colors of the American Flag(red, white, and blue) were used to show patriotism. This was to show optimism towards the future and what you may have seen in this era.

Dorothy Draper’s Pastel Designed Room

Dorothy Draper’s Floral Inspired 1940’s room

Patriotic Decor designed by Dorothy Draper 1940’s

1950- 1960

In the 1950’s there was a residential design boom.  The economy had not seen an increase in development since the 1920’s.  When people were designing the decor of their interiors, they had three things in mind: simple design, well made products, and furniture that was reasonably priced.  Many stayed true to the idea of minimalistic designs that didn’t have ornate decoration incorporated in to it.  Being organized was a great quality in the home, and many different storage devices were  incorporated into the design scheme. People felt during this time,  that being organized made the room appear to be more modern.  Each furniture piece that was incorporated into the decor had a functional purpose.   For this reason we saw a lot of built in furniture within the floor plans so that they could incorporate hidden storage areas for the modern family.

1950s decor

1950’s room scheme which incorporated kitschy colors and style.

1950’s Room Interior with excellent coordination qualities. This room shows how new construction during this time incorporated new woods and metals which made the room efficient and interesting.

Kitschy Style of 1950’s decor.

What we have discovered over this blog is that the interior design world today is still very influenced on  past decades when it comes to decor.  Through the decades, many knowledgable architects and designers have invented great designs that have sustained to present times.

Influence of Retro Furniture

The influence of retro furniture has defined what the general public considers modern furniture today.  The straight lines from past decades have influenced how we design the aesthetics of contemporary furniture.  Here at Fabrics and Frames Furniture we have  knowledge about the construction of retro furniture, and suggest that if you have the opportunity to design a room using vintage styles, do so if it’s a quality piece.  One reason is because most furniture in this decade is not manufactured with the same quality as it was constructed in the past decades.  Older furniture seems to be more sturdy, and usually will incorporate some form of spring system in the piece.  Mostly today’s furniture  is designed with a webbing system which doesn’t have a long lasting quality to it.  Fabrics and Frames furniture has been in the buisness of revamping older vintage pieces of upholstered furniture for 34 years.  We understand the difference between a high quality piece of furniture and a piece that is not worthy of recycling.  If you are in the market to reupholster an older piece that’s handed down, or a market find, we can suggest ways to refurbish it, to give it new life for years to come!

 For more information about designing or where to get custom looks like these please visit our website:

www.fabricsandframes.com

We are currently located at 5322 Alpha Rd, Dallas, Texas 75240972-385-4097.  Please contact us if you have any questions about this blog atandy@fabricsandframes.com, and or follow us on Facebook!http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fabrics-and-Frames-Furniture/156825517684205

Writen By: Erica Guajardo

Edited By: Andy Fischman

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