Out of the Kitsch Came the Classic

"Poolside Gossip" was taken in 1970 by Slim Aarons. It sets the tone for the glamour of the decade.

“Poolside Gossip” was taken in 1970 by Slim Aarons. It sets the tone for the glamour of the decade.

The sleekness of the Mad Men modern era of the 1950s met the social upheaval of the swinging ’60s and the psychedelic 1970s were born.  For interior design it meant experimentation. Some things worked while others definitely did not.

But thankfully, out of the kitsch, some classics were born.  Let’s face it, predictable rooms are boring. And the 1970s were anything but predictable!

Despite some ’70s homes including hot tubs in the bedroom, one  innovation born during this decade was the classic open floor plan. If you were to study these blueprints, they would seem quite similar to those still being built in subdivisions today with a living room flowing into a kitchen that is closely connected to the dining room. A particular feature to expand during this era was the kitchen.  Julia Child’s cookbooks were on everyone’s counter, and those counters and cabinets were expanding. Seventies’ kitchens were growing to include breakfast nooks and islands, bringing the whole family into a space that at one time had been reserved only for women or staff.

A modern kitchen inspired by classic floor plans of the 1970s (photo by Pieter Estersohn | from Architectural Digest)

A modern kitchen, from Sara Story’s sprawling Texas estate, is inspired by classic floor plans of the 1970s. (photo by Pieter Estersohn | from Architectural Digest)

While wall-to-wall burnt orange shag carpeting may not be quite as popular as it was when the open floor plan began, these large connected spaces have become one of the biggest selling points for homes on today’s market.

With a new consciousness for the environment that came with Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in the late Sixtiesearth tones and nature motifs made their way into fashion and interiors by the early Seventies. Bringing the outside in meant a lot of natural stone fireplaces,  wood paneling and houseplants. Many of these elements are still considered chic additions in our homes today.

YSL room from the 1970sFashion icon Yves Saint Laurent’s design aesthetic carried over from the runway into his home. “It reflected exactly his style and his taste for mixing the severe and the magical,” Jacques Grange said of the Paris living room that Saint Laurent decorated for himself.

The Seventies’ influential hand can be seen in the mix of wood, including teak, animal prints and shades of brown. The enamel panel and monumental vases are by French artist Jean Dunand.

Lalanne sheep amble through YSL's Paris library in 1971. This sun-washed space, filled with plants and nods to nature, was where the fashion icon said "I am most comfortable and spend most of my time." -Architectural Digest, Sept. 2016

Lalanne sheep amble through YSL’s Paris library in 1971. This sun-washed space, filled with plants and nods to nature, was where the fashion icon said “I am most comfortable and spend most of my time.” -Architectural Digest, Sept. 2016

Despite being designed in the ’70s, these rooms are just as fabulous now as they were then.

A final classic to come out of the campy disco ball era was the geometric pattern. Thanks to interior designer David Hicks, and later fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg, geometric shapes became glamorous and that is quite a feat.

David Hicks, the master of editing the mix of chic patterns.

David Hicks, pictured in his own home, was the master of editing the mix of chic patterns. This black and white room is classic, no matter the decade in which it lives.

By keeping it bold but edited, the use of interlocking geometrics by Mr. Hicks became synonymous with the decade and with style. Having started designing in late the Fifties, David Hicks was a brand by 1972. According to Vogue, “By the 1970s, David Hicks Ltd. was producing wallpaper, fabrics and linens for its prolific offices and boutiques in eight countries.”

We have some interesting Women’s Board connections. David Hicks’ daughter, India, was a speaker in 2005.  Additionally, one of David Hicks’ apprentices was Mark Hampton. Mark Hampton’s daughter, Alexa Hampton, was a keynote speaker at our 2015 Art & Antiques Show!

David Hicks’ iconic signature look of bold mixes is still relevant today.

A timeless and chic green and white patterned bedroom by David Hicks.

A timeless and chic green and white patterned bedroom by David Hicks.

Yes, the Seventies have been known by some as the decade that taste forgot. There may have been too much macrame, plastic furniture and avocado-green kitchen cabinetry, but thankfully, out of the too-much we found some just-right, and out of the disco ball emerged some true gems.

Indeed, out of the kitsch came some classic — and classic that has stood the test of time.


Mollie Peterson- HOSTandSERVEMollie Peterson lives in Jacksonville with her husband Matthew. She is a member of the Art & Antiques Show Social Media Committee. Mollie is a teacher at James Weldon Johnson College Prep and a 2015 Gladys Prior Award Winner for Career Teaching Excellence. She is the creator of the blog HOSTandSERVE and is a grateful stroke survivor.

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