Nostalgia and design

My friends’ parents were usually anything from 10-35 years older than mine, a fact that seemed a little curious to me but which didn’t really penetrate until much later, when it was definitely cool to have a dad who took me to rock concerts (especially since I went to the school he taught at!) and a mother who is more like a best friend.

However, it took me a very long time to realise that this is probably the main reason why our home looked so different to everybody else’s: no Persian or fireside rugs (or gas-fires!), no antiques or valuable paintings, no works of art and sculpture collected on long voyages taken in their youth and certainly no stiff and stuffy old upholstery… The first furnishings I remember were after we moved abroad and bought pretty much everything new.

There was the 3-piece suite – organically moulded foam covered in brown velvety fabric – and the coffee and side tables in smoky glass and chrome. The psychedelic wallpaper in tasteful browns, the curtains in coarsely woven hemp, very back-to-nature, the teak G-plan table and chairs in Scandinavian designer style, the orange carpeting (that was my choice, I hasten to add!)…

And the gadgets. My dad loved nothing more than a new toy, preferably electronic, while my mother had a great modern aesthetic and taste for the latest fashions and it never crossed my mind that it could be any other way. They regularly attended home fairs and always brought some intriguing object back. My mother still has a super-trendy orange mixer and the matching orange juicer stood on her counter for longer than we like to remember. We had an early portable cassette tape recorder and a number of other electronic bits and pieces that were “in”. Apart from phones in various snazzy colours – mustard, anyone?! – there was an Ericofon/Ericaphone…











…now considered a great design classic,  by Ralph Lysell, that sat by my parent’s’ bedside. And because our first flat was fairly tiny for a family, one of the neatest little TVs ever made, the JVC Videosphere (black and white, of course)…

…that sat in a corner of our living room! It had a thick chain at the top for hanging, which we didn’t use, but I’m sure other owners interspersed theirs with a plant in a macramé sling or two!! We even had a table lamp that matched it.

My own bedroom was barely bigger than my bed, with a window across the far corner looking out onto a yard infested with pigeons. There was just room for a toybox along the end of my bed, an orange plastic lampshade overhead and a string shelf hung on the wall, and the furniture shop had just the ticket for a little girl – a truly mind-bogglingly compact dressing table…

…with removable compartments inside and a matching orange plastic stool! The lid flips and drops to close and it’s about 30cm in diameter. I loved it and developed pretty good blow-drying skills at it in the course of the late 70s.

In fact, I loved it so much that a few years ago, I began searching the internet to find out more about it. I trawled photo upon photo of traditional and 70s dressing tables, to no avail. Then began stalking our local auction site. To my utter delight I found one for sale quite near by and immediately snapped it up. I think it’s the only one that’s ever been available on there! My “new” dressing table is white, much more inconspicuous in my slightly more traditionally furnished home but sits in pride of place in my white and red bedroom, reminding me daily of an interesting childhood quite unlike that of most other people I know, and in an era that is now considered drop-dead chic…

Times, they are a-changin’…!!!

3 thoughts on “Nostalgia and design

  1. And what about the funky pull-down lampshades? the one in the lliving room was orange. What a pity none of you wants a genuine 70’s hand-crocheted wall-hanging in off-white, beige and brown Berber wool, currently rolled up in my basement waiting for a suitable high wall! The crochet hook was as thick as my little finger – I wonder what became of that?

    • I remembered that one after I’d written the post! Orange glass, wasn’t it, but the pull-down thing was brilliant….
      The wall hanging is the one with the bells, I suppose 😉

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