Defining the furniture styles of the 1970s is not a simple task. Some household icons from the 1960s, such as shag rugs and lava lamps, were stowaways well into the 1970s, but the Watergate decade definitely developed signature styles. Variations in materials and color, as well as the degree of ornamentation and utility, gave the 1970s an unforgettable and, at times, contradictory furniture design legacy. In my opinion, the 1970s era was the last true period of encompassing design; no defining style, fashion, look, or concept has occurred since.
This 1970s banquette was purchased by Bene in
1. Sleek and Industrial
Chrome, vinyl, plastic, and glass take charge! European designers in the 1960s and 1970s popularized fuss-free furniture with compelling lines, such as the simple Tulip Chair by Eero Saarinen and the signature Elda Lounge chair by Joe Colombo.
Homes began showcasing furniture made from durable materials such as acrylic, melamine and chrome, sometimes accented with glass and metal. Formica replaced tile in kitchens, pleather came on the scene and designers like Eero Aarnio made it chic to sit in a giant plastic ball.
2. Convenience First
It's a cube, it's a shelf, it's a table! I'd argue that the most recognized furniture brand name in the 1970s was La-Z-Boy. The company had been around for almost a half a century when Verner Panton confronted the public with a chair that turned into a soft sculpture for the living room, and Oscar Niemeyer presented a rocking lounger.
Homes in the 1970s sported stackable washer/dryers to create a semblance of efficiency. Other space-savers like bunk beds and bean-bag chairs promoted compactness and versatility. Storage-capable furniture was hip, and stackable cubes became the rage. Something that also functioned as something else meant value in a depressed economy.
3. Dark and Earthy
Avocado green: color of the decade! Many who lived through the 1970s experience flashbacks when they see appliances, dishes and lampshades in avocado green and harvest gold. Phasing out the blonde woods of the 1960s and predating the pine fad of the 1980s, the 1970s favored the dark hues of walnut and teak. Pastels were nonexistent; black, white and metallics acted as supplemental colors to the more prevalent browns, oranges, golds and greens.
4. Au Naturel
With the advent and glorification of industrial material in the 1970s home, one may forget the softer side of 1970s furniture and accessories. Papasan chairs, fashioned from rattan, along with bamboo and cork pieces, appeared alongside their plastic counterparts. People wore ponchos and accented couches and walls with Guatemalan throws. The earth tone craze featured bold and beautiful printed textiles.
5. But Wait, There’s More
The 1970s was such a confluence of styles we’ve just scratched the surface! Along with chic, shagadelic styles, there was so much more to the decade: Pop/Op Art, the psychedelic style seen in the work of Peter Max, mirror finishes, geometric madness, disco … I could go on and on!