The interior design trends of the 1970s are a striking balance of comfort and vitality, echoed by an irrepressible desire to feel free. This period saw the birth of comfortable hippy-inspired boho chic furniture and bold components destined to make history, such as Alessandro Mendini’s Proust armchair.
It is also a decade of contrasts, leading on the one hand to the use of natural materials interwoven with neutral colors, and on the other hand to the use of rigorous geometries outlined by unprecedented color schemes.
Drawing inspiration from this swirl of emerging elements is fashion, a great expression of the nonconformity of the youth of the time. The Canadian singer Joni Mitchell is undoubtedly one of the quintessential style icons of the 1970s, with her large colorful shirts, billowing caftans, loose hair, bare feet and a guitar in her hand.
In the 1970s, wallpaper experienced a real golden moment. Peeping out from the creations of the period are two subjects destined to strongly characterize the entire decade: flowers and geometric designs. To shape their creative ideas, the designers of the time take their cues from the fashion industry itself.
A major source of inspiration is the clothing of hippies, marked by large prints and linear patterned fabrics, usually made in bright colors.
The walls of houses thus begin to be personalized with equally striking decorative motifs, which prove particularly attractive to young people. This trend is meant to represent a clean break from the previous decade dotted with tiny floral prints and stylistically perfect graphic patterns.
With the 1970s comes a turning of the page and a shift from the intimacy of the family environment to an electrifying atmosphere, more than ever projected toward the globality of the world.
Where everything originates
The graphic art of the period seems to want to bring to its fullest expression what had been encapsulated in the artistic trends of the early decades of the twentieth century, with the Bauhaus and the theoretical treatises of Vasily Kandinsky. Let us not forget that in 1925 the Russian artist published his book “Point, Line and Surface,” where he aimed to identify the nature of what characterizes form. In this way, Kandinsky comes to outline a kind of science of art, based on mathematical elements. Geometry, in fact, from which future art develops.
The wallpapers of the 1970s can be recognized a mile away. Made with bright colors and bold textures, they are a succession of squares, circles, wavy lines and all sorts of other shapes. They are made in a variety of shades and often sport two or three colors mixed together in an eye-catching design.
Not infrequently, these fashionable motifs are chosen to characterize a room in the house intended for relaxation and welcoming friends, such as the living room, bar corner or tavern. But style lovers also repurpose it on the walls of other rooms, even in the bathroom.
Quality floral wallpapers also continue to be a popular subject for decorating homes, but the wallpaper creatives of the moment are giving it a new twist. Flowers are not modeled on actual images of what nature offers. They are broken down into their elements and repurposed in a stylized form, perhaps taking a cue from the Flower Power movement of the 1960s.
Along with bold prints, 1970s wallpaper also brings a breath of fresh air in terms of material choices.
The use of aluminum foil, for example, allows the wallcovering to be given a shiny and reflective effect. Not infrequently, prints of the period include gold, silver, copper, bronze and other metallic colors. Thus, light-soaked media were born that were meant to amaze, representing a classic expression of the glitz that characterized the entire decade.
Metal-effect papers are often used in rooms that benefit most from this glow, such as bathrooms and kitchens. It is a style that somewhat echoes the glittering globes so popular with clubbers in the 1970s.
Vinyl also makes its way into the coverings of the period. Aesthetically, it repurposes the same bold prints and shapes as traditional paper wall media, but it has a not insignificant advantage: it is much easier to care for. In fact, simply wiping a damp sponge and soap over the wallpaper will remove most of the impurities. This aspect encourages its widespread use not only in home kitchens, but also in restaurants and public places, where stains are the order of the day.
And today those very styles are making a comeback by imposing themselves on the international design scene. A true revival inspired by what is, after all, a timeless style.
The images in the article are taken from: Wallpaper from the 1970s.