Interior Design Styles You May Not Know
By Thiyashi Koththigoda
Popular interior design styles like Modern, Contemporary, Bohemian, or Eclectic are definitely the go-to for when we want inspiration. But if you’re feeling a little creatively bankrupt with these standard choices, you can look to the past for styles that can actually provide a refreshing dose of inspiration. Keep on reading to get the creative boost you need by learning about the origins and characteristics of three not so mainstream interior design styles.
If you’re looking for something playful with hints of 80’s and 90’s nostalgia, look no further than Memphis-inspired interior design. The Memphis design movement began with the formation of the Memphis Design collective in Italy in 1981. Founding designer Ettore Sottsass and 22 other designers created a range of products in their distinctive style. Bright neon colours, simple geometric shapes, and bold clashing patterns are key characteristics of the Memphis look.
The style also featured rounded edges and corners and prominent use of black and white stripes and zig-zag patterns. Memphis design was an amalgamation of styles that came before it, with inspiration being drawn from Kitsch, Pop Art, and Art Deco. This style’s brash and lively nature was a reaction to the prevalent aesthetics of the time, which were the dark and sophisticated Mid-Century Modern look of the 1950s and ’60s and the Minimalist wave in the 1970s. This spectacular clash made Memphis wildly popular around the globe.
With critics panning it and the general public adopting a ‘love it or hate it’ attitude, the style permeated almost all aspects of art, design and media and became the aesthetic that defined the 80’s. A glance at the visuals of iconic 80’s media like TV show Saved By The Bell and cable channel MTV demonstrate how popular the Memphis Style truly was at its peak. Needless to say, interior design also took on the bold characteristics of the style.
Colourful laminate and terrazzo floors were popular, along with boldly printed fabrics for furniture, wallpaper and another décor. Furniture was also brightly coloured in multiple hues and was formed in unusual and rounded shapes. Although a fully Memphis-style room may not be what you’re looking for, you can incorporate some elements of it into your space for a touch of liveliness. From a Memphis patterned throw pillow to a brightly coloured coffee table or even a geometric lamp, the options are endless.
Are you a fan of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey? If you are, you’ll remember the distinct futuristic visuals and set design. This look was actually at the peak of interior design at the time, which was the 1960’s. Dubbed ‘Space Age’ design, this style rose in popularity with the increased interest that the American general public had towards the Space Race between the USA and the Soviet Union.
The Space Age theme was also a post-war reaction to the mass-produced design that embodied functionality which was prevalent during the Second World War People were ready to look to the future with hope. As such, technological discoveries and advancements in space exploration intrigued the entire nation. This atmosphere is what gave birth to the Space Age style. Aerospace engineering heavily influenced the look and feel of this style, especially in interior design.
The Space Age look is characterised by a mix of both futuristic and organic designs. Shapes and forms were abstract and fluid with prominent use of diagonals. Materials like wood were replaced with stainless steel and plastic for a metallic or shiny sheen. Additionally, common themes and motifs included rocket ships, capsules, pod shapes and atomic bursts. The colour palette mainly consisted of white with bright colours like orange or green as secondary hues. The Space Age aesthetic overtook art and design, but commercial manufacturers really capitalised on the craze to sell furniture and décor to consumers. Furniture was often streamlined and geometric or fluidly shaped and made of PVC, glass, or metal. Wall treatments like wallpaper created a smooth and streamlined look to create space.
Busy patterns and extra accessories were excluded, to create a clean and open look. Often, décor was inspired by astronaut gear and satellites while lighting fixtures mimicked atoms (like the iconic Sputnik Chandelier). If you want to add some retro-futuristic appeal to your home, you can take some inspiration from the Space Age style for some easy décor changes or additions. What you take away from this unique style is up to you, whether you decide to line your shelves with some vintage space memorabilia, set up a mini Spunik Chandelier-inspired pendant lamp, or even use a wall decal to make streamlined shapes on the wall.
Nothing exemplified royalty and opulence like the Baroque style of the 17th century. For those looking for some design inspiration to make their space feel a bit grander, you can take a page or two out of the Baroque look book. Baroque was an art movement that originated in Italy in the early 17th century, soon spreading to different parts of Europe like France. The art style was all about expression, with dramatic compositions and intricate details. This essence was also seen in the interior design of affluent members of European society. The prime example of this was the Palace of Versailles, which was transformed into a lavish monument of his power and riches.
Baroque interiors were identifiable by their extravagant ornamentation, curved and dynamic forms and rich colour palettes. Although elaborately decorated, the Baroque style also retains a delicate balance and symmetry while creating complex movement with all the elements in the room. The luxuriousness is further amplified by the use of sleek materials like marble and granite. Fabrics are often quite elegant with heavy use of silk and velvet and often featured floral and damask prints. Often, furniture would be large and gilded with gold and would feature intricate carvings, usually of vines and other greenery.
The accents would consist of crystal, glass, and mirrors, usually in the form of carved mirrors and giant chandeliers. The colours used in such interiors only added to the opulence, with deep reds, blues and greens being combined with beige and white and topped off with silver and gold accents. While too many Baroque elements may overpower your room or home, you can find inspiration in certain aspects of the style. For example, you can add a small gold gilded mirror to add to your wall for an eye-catching accent. If you want to make your room more elegant, get richly coloured or damask patterned fabrics for your bed, curtains, or throw pillow covers. Even using a Baroque style colour palette of white, jewel tones and gold or silver for the space you’re redecorating is a sure-fire way to add some splendour.