Question: What do megawatt colour and retro florals, power couples, masculine tailoring, oversized shirts, dusky pinks and political unrest have in common?
Answer: the 1980s and 2017 – simultaneously.
Open a fashion or women’s interest magazine, check out BBC News on your iPad, or switch on the news at any time during April 2017 and you could easily be confused. In fact you might be forgiven for thinking you took a step back in time to the 1980s. The similarities are scarily in-sync – a female Prime Minister, a period of unsettling political and social unrest (note: this is not a political blog but we’re scene-setting, so bear with us!), a big divide between the haves and have not’s… The list is endless.
When Futon Company opened its first store in 1981, the backstory of the British consumer was set against the dismantling of big bureaucratic structures, the sound of new wave and punk, the art school cool of David Bowie and the rise of the early computer. ‘Thatcherism’, as it came to be known, deregulated the stock market, and the Big Bang of 1986 led to a rampant rise in consumerism. The Shops Bill was introduced, which eventually led to Sunday Shopping and longer opening hours, while Britain became a ‘nation of homeowners’ – the Right to Buy Bill meant everyone had a chance to own their own home.
Love it or loathe it, the 1980s set the scene for 2017, impacting everything from people’s attitude to work, to the way they shop, to the way they decorate their homes.
The 1980s are not known as a decade of taste, yet ironically this is a style period that’s having a resurgence in 2017 (for the third time in almost four decades!). What’s interesting is that while the 1980s are better known for their garish clothing, unflattering hairstyles and unappealing colours, there’s an altogether more stylish side to the 1980s. What’s more, these less headline-grabbing trends have morphed and evolved, are still very much evident today and, more importantly, are lauded as style staples and new neutrals.
2017 style staples with their roots in the 1980s:
• Open plan living. The first open plan living space came into consumer consciousness in the early 1980s. Today, open plan living forms the focus of most newly built homes. What’s more, it’s often seen as the Grand Design vision for contemporary living
• Metal lamps. Often seen as a style staple for the modern home, metal lamps and shades were big in the 1980s. Today’s copper and steel lamps are big business
• Futons. Futon Company discovered futons in Japan and believed they were the ‘next big thing.’ We were right. The new wave, contemporary vibe for all things modern meant they were also big business, and their popularity meant our company went from strength to strength, expanding into other accessibly-priced, stylish furniture as the decade went on. Today, 37 years later, we still sell futons and they are the cornerstone of our business which is founded on our expertise in small space living
• Bare-wood floors. Co-existing alongside the better-known chintz-haze, the 1980s embraced the ‘less is more’, minimalist approach to living which translated as clean lined furniture. Colour wise, white and grey were very popular – as they still are today – and many style-led home magazines in 2017 have their design ethos embedded in the modernist, clean lined approach to design that first found its feet in the 1980s
• Rounded furniture. As well as clean lines, the 1980s saw an Art Deco revival, which resulted in rounded furniture. Again, this modern and contemporary shape is still very evident in modern homes stores in 2017
Long live the 1980s – long live 2017!