The 1980s were certainly an interesting time. Prosperity and decadence were followed by an economic crash, and excitement about the decade’s great technological advances was tempered by Cold War anxiety. This hectic decade produced a number of very different interior design trends, all equally characteristic of the era.
After the earthy tones and extravagant style of the Seventies, many designers in the Eighties reacted by moving in the opposite direction. The results can be spotted in ultra-Eighties movies like Less Than Zero, where interiors are cool, sleek, and minimal. Think glossy black marble, lacquered or mirrored surfaces, black glass, and clear acrylics, with perhaps a dash of colored neon. Colors are on the cold side, with lots of grey, black, and silver. Popular contemporary pieces that are a perfect match for an Eighties-style room include curved leather sectionals, glass tables, and mirrored sideboards. Accessorize with non-figurative artworks, like the Topazio Sculpture.
The Memphis Group was a collective of Italian designers, led by Ettore Sottsass, who drew inspiration from a melange of previous decades’ styles, including Art Deco, 1950s Americana, and Pop Art. The extremely colorful and eclectic results had an outsized impact on interior design and fashion in the Eighties and early Nineties, and genuine Memphis furnishings are now collectors items. Common features of Memphis style are geometric shapes, asymmetry, and wild graphic patterns — animal prints, grids, and Keith Haring-esque squiggles may appear alone or all thrown in together. Colors are bright and combined in non-intuitive ways, like primary colors with pastels. Look for furnishings that are unconventional in shape and materials, and don’t worry about clashing — unpredictability is the order of the day!
Art Deco Revival
Art Deco made a big comeback in the Eighties, and influences a lot of the styles that we now associate with the period. Rooms were softly illuminated by Art Deco-influenced sconces; furnishings glistened with chrome; and pastels were everywhere. Geometric forms met extravagant curves, and marble was the ultimate in luxurious materials, appearing on everything from walls to tabletops. Art Deco remains a perennially popular style, so shopping for pieces that capture the original Deco style couldn’t be easier. Capture the more specific Eighties Deco look by decorating in greys and pinks, and mix things up by introducing elements of teal, mint, and peach. White leather chaises, marble cocktail tables, and pieces that feature prominent chrome or brass accents will all help push this look over the top.