Retro Style: The 50s Look for Today's Home (Living etc. series)

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9780304354368: Retro Style: The 50s Look for Today's Home (Living etc. series)
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This modern take on the styles of the 50s defines the retro palette, materials and patterns, and provides tips on sourcing essential furniture classics and all the accessories to recreate the 50s look in the modern home. The book includes ten simple but stunning projects.

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Review:

Emerging from the austerity and hardship of the post-war 40s, the 50s dawned as a bright, shiny era of hope. Fashion and design mirrored this sense of optimistic reinvention and the public craved the new look of colour, fun and modernity. Many of the styles dated quickly but the celebratory mood in which they were conceived remains relevant and appealing. Retro Style celebrates the best of the 50s but with a contemporary twist embracing bold colours and sleek styles that manage to look quirkily perfect in today's home.

The most distinct styles are immediately familiar; the Scandinavian look incorporating furniture from Danish designers like Arne Jacobsen, subdued natural palettes and pale wood. Or perhaps you hanker for pastel perfection--the most quintessentially 50s look; ice cream sundae colours signifying youthful rebellion against the dull, dingy colours of the war years. The content is a healthy mix: explaining the cultural and social climate of the 50s that led to these designs and listing the materials that were predominantly used (plastic, plywood, synthetics and laminates). Some easy-to-make projects are thrown into the mix and the key designers are all name-checked with some superb photos of their work in modern settings.

Accessories that typify 50s style are pretty obvious: classic Dualit toasters, the worktop blender to recreate the milk bar shakes but the cultural background behind these makes for interesting reading. The quote from the Servis washer advert goes some way to remind us of the delirium they attempted to induce in housewives across the land: "Coming in a selection of gaytone colours! Guardsman red, almond green, horizon blue and lemon peel yellow teamed with white or cream." Suddenly there were appliances for every function and they came in colours to match your twin-set--surely enough to induce excitement in anyone!

As Lucien Day designs are re-launched in Habitat and Cath Kidson floral prints find their way into modern homes, it's simultaneously amusing and frustrating to witness the extent to which, as trendy young things, we're simply reclaiming the fashions of our parent's youth as our own. If that's what we want then Retro Style is the book to show us how to do it properly.--Rachel O'Connor

About the Author:

Marion Haslam has worked as a buyer for design-led retailers including Habitat in England.

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