Design often goes back to go forward. If you’re old enough to remember the 1980s, you’re thinking painters’ pants, big hair, and broad shoulders, headbands, and leggings. Think Miami Vice, Pee Wee Herman, and Madonna! Madonna! Madonna!
The worst of it is behind us, but interior designers, as they are wont to do, have a knack for recognizing, rescuing, and restoring the best in design from whatever era.
For example, graphic arts in the 80s restored the clean lines and curves of Art Deco. You’ll see it in accents, dinnerware, and ceramics. More designers than you think started with minimalism as social politics began to stress “less is more.”
Perhaps they wanted a paler canvas to host the over-the-top colors, loud music, and bold colors. Some design had to take the back seat, so they introduced glass, brass, chrome, and other metallics to furnish the neutral and pale pallets that allowed the patterns and shapes pop out. As My Modern Met reported on the influential Memphis Design Group, “Like many creative movements, Memphis was a reaction against the status quo. The 1950s/60s mid-century modern and 1970s minimalism were about structure and straight lines.” As a counter attack, Memphis-influenced designers centered around the “’radical, funny, and outrageous’—essentially, disregarding what was considered in ‘good taste’ at that time.”
Laura Ashley and Thomas Kincaid were disappearing in the 80s, and the origins of shabby chic moved in with lights colors and flea market furniture. Among the salvaged trends from the 80s is metallics. Not the darkened metals of 80s knickknacks, but shining and antique finishes. And, the retro memories appear in accents, furniture, and lighting fixtures.
Designers went back to the future to design Ursa. This chandelier hangs 51.25-inches across, its matte acid black arms extending at random angles. Each arm ends with a triangle shaded with white acrylics.
It recalls industrial lighting with softened edges. It’s modern and futuristic, but it also belongs to the movies of the 80s: Back to the Future, Indiana Jones, Blade Runner, Star Trek, and more. And, it brings those mixed memories back to this future with a lively abstract concept.
How right it is for this room in white and pale pastels. It floats and appears ready to move among the glass table. The room lacks some of the chintz and raw colors of the 80s décor. There’s nothing of Michael Jackson or Diana Ross in this setting.
Alleta, another fixture, does something of the same with a touch of something warm. This is an industrial design at the core with a marked twist.
Burgundy leather wraps its central core for its 42.5-inches where it divides into just four polished gold lamps. The leather adds that warmth and texture to this contemporary design.
The crystal globes harken back to industrial work floors, but the bundle of glass and light add something fun and airy.
In the environment shown here, Alleta adds subtlety and elegance, play and innovation to a room with 80s themes in color and form.
Back to the 80s
You’re in your 30s if you were born in the 80s. But, you’re pushing the age envelope if you were a teen then. Looking back, it can seem a bit over the top. But, every age has some themes to remember and revalue. The metallics and glass of these unique fixtures fit the bill.