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23 August 2022
Sober colors and pop forays, rigorous lines and creative flashes are the characteristics of the furnishings and lights designed in the 70s, still extraordinary
Not just radical: the Italian design of the 1970s is a set of formal and functional intuitions that describe a social change. They describe the desire for a house that has style but that knows how to respond with concrete solutions to specific needs, even before aesthetic ambitions. Therefore in the furnishings, lights and accessories designed in this period and still objects of desire today, we find the functional thrust of the modern approach to design, alongside completely innovative, almost unexpected, formal intuitions. And it is perhaps this balance between functional efficiency and aesthetic identity that makes the furnishings and lights of the 1970s perfect even today. At a time when there is a strong awareness of one’s domestic needs, of the functions required of the furnishings, but also of the desire for a familiar and comfortable beauty. The design of the 70s combines the reassuring flavor of the past that marked the success of the vintage style, with modern functionality. Two very interesting aspects in the interior design of every room in the house.
Warm colors and soft lines
The design of the 1970s sometimes touches experimental peaks, assuming the extreme characteristics of a counter-current design. But more often it is a solid and familiar design. The prevailing colors are warm ones, among the neutrals there is brown in all its shades, including those lighter than beige. Touches of yellow and orange help create focal points, while white is the color chosen to soften and illuminate the rooms. The same palette is also used for floors and walls and is an interesting element of inspiration if you want to bring this style into the home. For a more contemporary result, it is advisable to opt for light shades such as sand and rope and for furnishing elements with soft but essential lines, softening the most extreme and radical aspects of the design of the 70s.
Kitchen: new features and attention to design
In the 1970s, the kitchen went through the tunnel of time and finally became modern. This means not only configured to accommodate a series of new appliances for the time, but also designed with a whole new aesthetic. This is the period when design, as we know it today, literally enters the kitchen. Companies take a leap forward and involve designers with a disruptive formal approach to give this environment a whole new face. In the 70s the kitchen becomes a modern and trendy environment, where functionality is accompanied by a refined style and attention to details.
Dining area: formal rigor and functional accessories
Even the classic dining room changes its face, often transforming itself into a modern concept dining area, in an open space shared with the living room. This involves an update of the design: essential lines, rigorous seating, and a new concept of lighting as well. The lamp suspended on the table can be combined or replaced with complementary, less direct, and more comfortable lights. The sideboard of the past is replaced by a low and austere piece of furniture extremely devoted to function.
Living room: soft lights and iconic accessories
In the lighting design sector, the 70s are the time when the central light is questioned to pave the way for alternative and integrative solutions. Not only that: the lamps themselves go through a moment of extreme formal experimentation, in some cases they become sculptural, in others they take on organic and changing features. The table and floor lamps are designed to be not only functional but also beautiful to look at, to arouse amazement and enchantment. And the lines are now very refined, now playful.
Bedroom: modern comfort with precious materials
The bedroom becomes modern in the 1970s. Whereby modern we mean not only a leaner and more functional style, but also greater ease of use and greater comfort. Often the protagonists are the transforming beds, which can take on different configurations and suggest new ways of use. These are systems that are making a comeback today, at the service of a home that requires flexibility and resilience.
Home office: the design of efficiency and creativity
A connecting element between the 70s style and modern needs is the design of the study area in the house. Desks and bookcases of those years have clean lines but never banal, they are functional but at the same time decorative, in a discreet and completely new way. In this room of the house, the design of the 70s evokes industrial aesthetics, greatly anticipating the recent trend. Trestles, technical chairs, and hyper-functional drawer units begin to appear, bringing an aesthetic never seen before into the home. So, what are the furnishings and lights to be included in an interior to reflect the 70’s style with elegance and balance? Here are some examples of authentic icons that cannot be missing.
Atollo lamp by Vico Magistretti for Oluce
Designed in 1977 by Vico Magistretti for Oluce, Atollo is not only an icon of the 70s but also one of the most famous and popular lamps of all time. It is a masterful balance of geometries: the cylinder, the cone and the hemisphere are artfully composed and seem to come together in a magical balance. It is no coincidence that in 1979 this lamp won the Compasso d’Oro. With Atollo Magistretti he reinvents the table lamp, generates a new archetype that today, after more than forty years, is still current and elegant. And extremely versatile, thanks to its essential shapes, formats of different sizes and available finishes: from opal white to black.
Elmetto Lamp by Elio Martinelli for Martinelli Luce
Designed in 1976 by the founder of Martinelli Luce, the Elmetto lamp embodies some aspects of the design of the 1970s. It is a table lamp, for reading, but in a certain sense also for companionship, precisely because of its familiar and almost ironic shapes. Shapes that arise from a functional intention, that of ease of use: a large, clearly visible switch on the central body, which is easily found even in the dark and a diffuser that can be oriented with a simple gesture. Elmetto is available in various colors, all evocative of the more pop and ironic vein of the 70s style.
Boalum lamp by Livio Castiglioni and Gianfranco Frattini for Artemide
The Boalum lamp, defined by Domus as a snake of light, is proof of how a radical and subversive design can also be functional and versatile, as well as withstand the test of time. The tubular and flexible structure is made of reinforced translucent plastic material and equipped with resin joints. This luminous snake, thanks to its organic shape, can take on different configurations and be placed in any room of the house. Changing position as habits and needs change. Conceived in 1970, it is the first major experiment in flexible lighting.
Nuvola Rossa bookcase by Vico Magistretti for Cassina
Despite being one of the greatest furniture icons of the 70s, Nuvola Rossa has its design roots in an even more distant past. It was in fact 1946 when Magistretti conceived it, starting from a reflection on a bookcase designed as a ladder to be placed against the wall. In 1977 when Cassina asked him for a bookcase, Magistretti drew on that idea again, designing Nuvola Rossa as we know it today. A perfect bookcase for the wall as well as for the center of the room, ideal, for example, to mark the space between two functional areas of the same environment.
Nathalie bed by Vico Magistretti for Flou
With the Nathalie bed for Flou Vico Magistretti marks a definitive change in the concept of the bed: designed in 1978, its launch was accompanied by the claim “Flou has made the bed”. Padded, removable, easy to make, this bed was designed for a new generation, oriented to work, life, and not willing to waste time with housework. The style is dry but welcoming, the bed is padded but removable. Today that functional soul is further strengthened by the container model, which with a simple gesture allows you to access a precious space under the net.
Boby trolley by Joe Colobo for B-Line
Gio Ponti called Joe Colombo’s extraordinary projects “machines for living”. The Boby trolley, designed in 1970 is certainly one of them. Designed to keep the architects and designers’ studios in order, Boby entered with ease even in the houses of the 70s to never leave them. Available in different heights and colors, it is appreciated for its irony, familiar shapes, versatility, and functionality. In every house and in every room, where extra help is required to have everything in order.
Cifra 3 by Gino Valle for Solari Lineadesign
Among the 70s-style home accessories, the Cifra 3 table clock is certainly one of the most evocative of that era. Designed in the late 1960s by Gino Valli, it still works with the paddle roller system created by Remigio Solari in the 1960s and patented, before being adopted by the most important watches in the world, such as that of the JFK airport in New York. A small object with a great history and a great style.
Cactus by Guido Drocco and Franco Mello for Gufram
With the Cactus coat hanger, designed in 1972 by Guido Drocco and Franco Mello, we enter the heart of the radical design of the 70s. The Cactus is a real icon and evokes the more experimental and free side of 1970s design. Reductive to define it as a coat hanger, the Cactus is a polyurethane foam sculpture, originally imagined in green, but then, over the years, declined in different keys and colors.
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