The most sought after interior style of today must be the eclectic style. A strong desire for authentic, meaningful interiors takes us on a journey around the globe, but also back to the past where we seek guidance and inspiration from the once-popular furniture pieces and design styles. Our desperate quest for optimism and self-expression is bringing to focus the Space Age aesthetic to remind us of a time, not so long ago, when the sky was not the limit.
Putting an end to the grey postwar years and its mass-produced designs, built with functionality and stability in mind, the Space Age era focused primarily on the future.
After years of struggling and healing, society was finally ready for a change. Technological progress and economic recovery gave birth to a young, well-paid generation of enthusiasts with dreams of a bright future and prosperity.
The solid, unemotional designs of the ‘50s could no longer support their vision and their burning desire to shape the world according to their ideals. But it wasn’t only the rich who were puzzled with the question of how we are going to live in the future. The Space Age movement touched all layers of society and influenced both their thinking and their buying decisions.
There were the days of alternative lifestyles, pop culture, miniskirts, hallucinogenic substances and Woodstock.
The history of the Space Age style
The 1960s brought an unprecedented change affecting everything from politics, science, culture to aesthetic. The Space race between the USA and the Soviet Union brought many technological discoveries that found their application in all spheres of life. The moon landing triggered an even bigger hype as space travel now seemed closer than ever. The United States were soon recognised as the powerhouse leader and visionary of the world and all eyes were set on following their next steps.
The commercial architecture exploited the public’s infatuation with futuristic designs, rocket ships and nuclear motifs, and started incorporating their elements into buildings. Diagonals, boomerangs, fluid shapes, atomic bursts… they all started popping up in the major architectural projects of the time, luring in new consumers with their seductive promise of an out of this world experience.
But it wasn’t just the space race aesthetic that was mimicked. Many of the newly discovered materials and industrial processes also found their role in these new-age designs. The new synthetics opened up the doors to unbelievable creativity and both scientists and designers were busy developing new products and solutions.
How to spot the style
image source: Lush Home
The fresh way of thinking and the optimism of the time brought a major shift in the way we decorate our homes. Everything was possible if you were brave enough to pursue it.
The Space Age furniture was a mix of futuristic and organic design. A fascination with fluid shapes and sleek forms achieved through a clever use of new synthetics and stainless steel, and strong appetite for the trendy glossy geometrical values became the very foundation of the Space Age furniture style.
Imaginative forms and bright colours came to suggest the spirit of the moment, adding an exciting twist to the rational interior concept of the ‘50s. The Space age interior style renounced any affiliation with the industrial aesthetic of the mass-produced furniture of the past decades. Instead, furniture was created in small editions and was intentionally ephemeral and lighthearted. The furniture was no longer bought to last, but rather to excite and please until the trend wears off. Yet, this usually didn’t imply poor quality of the products, only its captivating visual statement.
A rebellion against everything traditional seemed equally important as the development of the new look. Humourous, even ironic Space Age designs mocked the former sensible approach to decorating, fueling a quick turnover for the consumer products and powering a rising consumer mentality.
To shoot for the stars, Space Age designs used motifs such as atomic bursts, UFOs, satellites, capsule and pod-shapes. Pedestal chairs and tables became very common and the new plastics replaced the wood as the leading material of the moment.
Image source: Design Milk
Space Age furniture designs
Designed back in the ‘60s by the furniture design star Verner Panton, the S chair pioneered a single-form single-material concept. Plastic, light and bright, this iconic piece was a turning point in the history of furniture design.
Another furniture classic of the Space Age, the Ball chair was designed in 1963 by Eero Aarnio. This particular fibreglass swiveling chair was responsible for his international breakthrough and remains a highly collectible piece to this day.
- Sputnik chandeliers
When it comes to the Space Age (and Atomic Age) lighting, you won’t find anything more exciting than a Sputnik chandelier. Named after the Soviet satellite Sputnik that is believed to be the tipping point that pushed the United States in developing the NASA space program. There are many interpretations of the Sputnik chandelier and all of them are still looking incredibly fresh and glamourous.
- UFO-inspired objects
Suggesting visitors from outer space, UFO-inspired lighting and decor captured another great infatuation of the time and offered a creative perspective of the possibility of extraterrestrial life.
Designed back in 1957, Eero Saarinen’s Tulip series was one of the first Space Age designs to be created, and yet it remains one of the most popular today. Read more about Eero Saarinen and his work here.
If you’ve been enjoying the Space Age revival and you are looking to develop a Space Age-inspired look in your home, take a look at our market of collectibles.
Image source: Project fairytale