So why go (back) there? Good question. One I’ve heard a lot lately. While a 1980s fashion revival has been well established, an official ’80s comeback has yet to hit the world of interior design. Furniture from the 1950s and ’60s is white hot at vintage shops and antique malls. Even pieces from the ’70s have their appeal, at times for their look and at times for their kitsch.
Where are the furniture and collectibles of the ’80s? Why do internet searches yield little more than Italian pieces that fetch hundreds and thousands of dollars or the highly sought-after prints of artist Patrick Nagel? (Don’t get me wrong—I’m a fan of both).
Is the “in your face” style of many 80s pieces limiting their comeback potential? Or is it the fact that the furniture and collectibles were crafted from cheaper materials? Perhaps not enough time has yet passed? So many questions…
To dig for answers, I turned to expert vintage vendor Bill Goodpasture from Room Service, one of my favorite Austin retro furniture and clothing boutiques.
’80s Interior Design Hurdles
Goodpasture names a few reasons why ’80s furniture has yet to re-infiltrate our homes.
(Note that I mention these obstacles not as a dig against ’80s design, but as a realistic look at some of the obstacles facing collectors.)
Thank you, Bill, for helping us to identify these hurdles!:
THE MATERIALS – Goodpasture notes that while mid-century modern furniture has “good bones” that have withstood the test of time, certain methods of furniture production in the 1980s were “about mass consumption,” especially when it came to seating, from the disintegrating foam inside of couches to the extra-thin vinyl covering bar stools. Of certain ’80s furniture pieces, Goodpasture says, “It’s almost like it was made to throw away” (after a couple of years of use).
He also notes that many ’80s items “just didn’t stand the test of time—a lot of pieces didn’t even survive.”
So, folks…’80s furniture collectors have their work cut out for them when it comes to finding sturdy pieces.
THE COLORS – Pastel mania! Goodpasture reminds us that the ’80s marked “a resurgence of the pastels, but it was a weird pastel-y kind of thing…like mauve and purple.” He notes that pastel usage in smaller decorative items, such as ceramics, was “done in almost a silly way…almost comical…kind of cartoony.”
While this odd combination of hues may be off-putting to some, there are collectors who may enjoy the fact that certain pieces are unmistakably ’80s!
THE TIME FRAME – Speaking of pieces that can only be from the ’80s, because many have such a distinctly dated look, Goodpasture says there hasn’t been enough interest to inspire collectors to decorate their entire homes ’80s-style. He adds that if a good number of pieces end up surviving, it could be another 20 years before people consider filling their homes with ’80s treasures.
Lots to take in, right? But for ’80s-lovers, all is not lost. There are collectible pieces that have held up and have true design potential. Bill shares his thoughts on the pieces that people are hunting for AND finding in the next post.