Thursday, 31 December 2015

80s Colours and Patterns

It wasn't just neon. Some colour combinations just scream "80s!", especially pink and jade diagonal flashes. Stripes, stripes, stripes were everywhere, and "black plus a colour".

pseudo kilim patterns on plastic tablecloths in shades of navy, jade, burgundy and ochre – these took a long, long, long time to go away.
red, grey and white on curtains etc.
pink and grey, especially in pseudo Japanese flowers on coffee cups
pseudo marble tiles in grey, apricot, and/or navy
all woodwork stained dark browny-red inside and out
terra cotta especially with French blue
yellow, pink, stone
pink, jade
pink, grey
grey, black and red
apricot, French blue,
the two combined, the two combined with lemon
ombré effects on pseudo silk-painted pseudo Japanese flowers (pink, grey, jade and apricot on black)

tongue and groove on ceilings
stripes on carpet
wall and floor tiles set diagonally
stripes on crockery
white slashes painted on in pairs to look like reflections on a shiny surface
wood cladding
blocks of green, pink and purple on anoraks for fell-walking

rag rolling and sponging
“artisanal” beige tiles
wallpaper with white trellis arches and pink flowers
mosaic tiles (in bathrooms, but also on tables, trays, placemats and coasters)
dupion taffeta (especially plaid)
fabric printed with strawberries or slices of cake
basket-work wallpaper in black and gold like the seat of a cane-bottomed chair
fake leaded windows
splatter paint, speckled finishes that came in a can
trellis-effect tiles

isosceles triangles
half circles
the Crafts Council gold swirl

More here, and links to the rest.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

80s Art

In the 80s, you hung prints showing:

blue skies, clouds and checkerboard floors

sunlit terraces without people but with highball glasses with straws, deckchairs or directors’ chairs, white cane furniture, ombré shadows, umbrellas furled and unfurled. Throw in a straw hat with a ribbon, a pavilion and a swimming pool

French windows opening onto terraces with white furniture and a cocktail glass with an umbrella, and a distant prospect of apricot and grey ombré mist (John Sovjani).

poolside scenes, beach umbrellas and empty deck chairs, turquoise sea, ultramarine sky, the edge of a pool, part of a deck chair, part of a garden chair with diagonal stripes

conservatory interior with palms and white ironwork

poppies and wheat, irises and lilies, daffodils, bird of paradise flowers

Venetian blinds and their shadows

neon slogans, especially in pink

cocktails splashing as a cherry is dropped in, with detailed reflections on the drops, splashes etc (All done by hand.)

Victorian greenhouses, ombré sunsets, unicorns, airbrushing, reflections, humorous sheep, Raybans, rainbows

woman with saucer hat tilted over eyes, lipstick mouth, black gloves, lots of diagonal crayon strokes (Ferraro)

pastel gardens with white lattice arches for roses, lattices for creepers, white trellis, and pergolas with lots of mauve flowers: wistaria, lilacs and lupins. Especially lilacs.

Western-style Japanese paintings of misty trees (someone called them “watery Zen landscapes”)

large framed sepia photographs of country scenes or small girls in white pinafores

pierrot masks, Escher and Arcimboldo prints

copper fish moulds in your kitchen for making mousses and terrines

Cafés had a lot of b/w photos of 40s film stars in narrow frames, and reproductions of Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks

20s Vogue and Harper’s covers

Art by: Paul Iribe, Patrick Nagel, John Kiraly, Georgia O’Keeffe, B.B. La Femme, Scott Nellis, Razzia, Walt Curlee, David Allgood (daffodils), Antonio Lopez, Manuel Nunez, Gordon Beningfield

Cream art deco teapots in the shape of racing cars, 18th century architectural plans, old advertising, Clarice Cliff, Goss china, china animals and cottages, amusing teapots in the shape of an Aga with a teapot on it, Lilliput Lane miniature cottages and buildings, pottery hedgehogs. “Collectable” china thimbles and commemorative plates advertised on the back pages of colour supplements. Huge baroque carved-wood barometers and wall clocks.

80s decor

Eighties Décor

What makes you think that, Mrs Fletcher?

Was 80s design all Memphis and Sotsass – bizarre shapes, graffiti scrawls and primary colours? 80s design was many things. Kate of the wonderful blog sums up:

Rattan flourishes, especially on furniture
A tropical palette, reflected in soft-toned floral fabric and teal cushions
Lush vegetation motifs, from house and patio plants to fabrics and wall decor
Ceramic vases in signature ’80s colors
Asian touches, such as porcelain vases and wall art
( on Golden Girls style)

Brass accents, tessellated stone that covers each piece in seamlessly applied squares, and Deco-style geometric shapes. (

Anything with a grid on it. (

Stair-step and diamond motifs. Teal, mauve, peach, purple and turquoise. (

Rattan furniture, tropical vegetation and animal motifs were distinct trends of the time. Even the prominent clouds peeking in from the window [white painted, lattice French doors half open] … were a signature ’80s theme, often showcased in surreal artwork of the era. [French doors have white venetian blinds, there’s a rattan circular glass-topped table and a screen painted with a palm tree and lianas.] (

Perhaps she’ll do Murder She Wrote now – Jessica is always staying in a hotel room with pastel flowery paper, pale Chinese vases and fabulous wall art. And the villains’ offices are full of potted palms.

There were many themes to choose from:

Black lacquer bedroom suites vaguely copied 30s and Japanese style. You sat at the dressing table in front of the pink shell-shaped mirror wearing an acetate kimono or Chinese style viscose dress with a large lily motif. Tables were low, black and Chinese style with curved legs. Art and square lanterns had Chinese characters allegedly for Life, Health and Happiness.

Translucent walls with a grid pattern recalled Japanese paper room dividers. The room was lit with square pleated paper lampshades. On the walls hung hexagonal Feng Shui mirrors and outsized red paper fans. Fan patterns were common, especially on the back of your pale pink kimono, combined with Japanese mon designs of cranes, wheat, bamboo, geometric symbols. Bamboo was big, bamboo chairs were black, and you ate off black hexagonal plates.

There was a hedgehog+brambles+conkers aesthetic. Probably with berries. And autumn leaves and blackberries – Brambly Hedge. Corn dollies, straw hats with straw flowers, and miniature versions of the same, went with this look. The Flower Fairies were fashionable – were the books reprinted? I’m seeing apple blossom. There were endless Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady products, and Country Living magazines.

Apricot, chalky blue, primrose yellow. You could do a whole room in pastels with diagonal slashes, tulips, coolie-hat lampshades, Chinese vases, ikat fabrics.

Graphic designers in red-framed uber-spectacles worked at home and decorated their entire home in graph paper: mugs, fablon, curtains, probably coasters and cushions. Green on white or red on white. Room dividers and wall units were made of bolted-together scaffolding with chickenwire panels, or sheets of aluminium with holes like offcuts from some industrial process. Or was the inspiration punched paper tape from old computers? The inmates slept on futons and threw rubbish into wire bins. They used offcuts of hardboard with holes in to hang things off (with coloured pegs and wire hooks). Their children slept in wooden bunk beds with built-in desks, and their wives hung their kitchen equipment from butcher’s hooks.

The look revolved around huge fake Art Deco glass scent bottles (perhaps the real thing were for bath salts, not scent), “keystone” mirrors, round mirrors, apricot and mint colour schemes, curved vases, Hollywood beds on platforms. Pictures showed women with marcel waves getting into vintage taxis, or a single cocktail glass.

Heavily influenced by the Victorians, this look combined flowery wallpaper, a flowery dado strip, a stripy dado, round tables with a long tablecloth, cushions, crocheted curtains, chintz, stencils, pastel pleated coolie-hat lampshades, crocheted lampshades (both terrible dust traps), roses, frills, pink, lace, stripes, pelmets, collectables, German rustic wooden kitchens, dried flowers, dressers stacked with flowery china, pine, pine, pine… with apricot. And then IKEA told us to "chuck out the chintz" and "don't let that doily spoil everything".

Very posh interiors had yellow walls and an antique globe. Sloane Rangers tried to recreate a stately home in a small flat in Fulham with a lot of forest green and burgundy, chintz and elaborate pelmets. Their china was dark green with a gold rim, or white with fluting. They liked original Victorian dark marble fire surrounds and prints of prisons by Piranesi. Their Redouté rose prints are now all faded and found at boot sales.

The middle classes went for chrome yellow, green and tomato, on twee fabric printed with all-over giraffes, stars or bears. Red and green tulip prints on chrome yellow. Rainbows in children’s bedrooms. French navy/old rose/jade/gold tiles in the kitchen. They painted floorboards white and scattered handwoven rugs that wrinkled, gathered dust and tripped you up. They filled low shelves with nicknacks from their holidays in Nicaragua and Nepal, sent each other greetings cards with sentimental cartoons, and read their children right-on fairy stories (“And so she left the prince in his palace and walked off alone into the sunset dressed in a brown paper bag”).

Essex Man loved square mirrors set diamond-wise, mirrors printed with pubiana or palm trees, amusing teapots, lamps with a globe in two hands, miniature or life-size film spotlights, glass-topped tables, lots of chrome and brass. And a jukebox.

Yes, I know I’ve skipped the 70s.