Lately I’ve been working on a collection of creative projects for my house, mostly of the wall art variety. I’ve gathered a slew of images, and it’s been wonderful to discover a WIDE RANGE of sources for 1980s design inspiration. Whether you’re creating a collage for your living room, assembling a modern “sculpture” out of everyday items, or taking on a larger project (such as building furniture), any image that celebrates color and form has the power to spark your next big endeavor!
Today I’m sharing a few of my favorite sources for retro-modern design ideas, including actual patterns and prints from the ’80s. But there are plenty of brand new designs that might interest you as well, including still life photography/artwork with a crisp ’80s feel. Check out some of my favorites, then share some of yours by leaving a comment at the end of the post…
In 1981, a group of Italian designers came together and began creating some of the most bold, vibrant and memorable high-end furniture and decor of the ’80s. The unexpected forms and radiant color combinations of Memphis-Milano pieces are an endless source of design inspiration!
Baykal, Victoria and Tanganyka vases by Marco Zanini, designed in 1982 and featured in the Flickr account of Memphis-Milano/Dennis Zanone:
Bay Lamp by Ettore Sottsass, designed in 1983 and featured in the Flickr photostream of Memphis-Milano/Dennis Zanone:
Hollywood table, crafted from laminate and lacquered steel, designed in 1983 by Peter Shire and available through Memphis Design Store:
No book has celebrated the fabric of the ’80s quite like 1980s Fashion Print by Marnie Fogg. Whether you’re into fashion design or you simply want to learn more about the colors, motifs and movements of the ’80s, reveling in fashion prints and patterns from the Decade of Decadence is nothing short of inspirational!
’80s print by Furphy Simpson, created with brushstrokes and wax drawings, featured in 1980s Fashion Print by Marnie Fogg:
“Strokes” by Alexander Henry Fabric, featured in 1980s Fashion Print by Marnie Fogg:
“Palm Leaf,” designed as part of Alexander Henry Fabrics’ “Sunsplash” collection, featured in 1980s Fashion Print by Marnie Fogg:
When gathering creative inspiration, don’t limit your sources to the 1980s! And don’t limit your search to the exact projects you’re taking on. For example, while you’re likely not building a home with your own two hands, you can learn a lot from perusing interesting examples of architectural brilliance. Only one of the buildings below was built in the ’80s, but check out those color combinations and geometric motifs…
Tokyo’s Reversible Destiny Lofts, by architects/artists Shusaku Arakawa and Madeline Gins, from the flickr account of Ken Lee:
Miami’s Atlantis Condominium, completed in 1982 and photographed by David Cobb Craig:
Vibrant homes in Tirunamavalai in South India, built in the 1940s and featured at Sketch 42:
Still Life Style
When it comes to today’s design climate, still life style couldn’t be more popular. From advertising to purely artistic projects, simple yet cheeky arrangements of everyday items are popping up everywhere, many of them with an ’80s feel! So jump in and explore this territory for your next big idea, and don’t be afraid to try some still life styling of your own.
Photography by Lucille Lawrence via VSCO:
3D illustration by Anton Hjertstedt via his tumblr Fssssssk:
Sky Scraper by Axel Oswith:
Last but not least, dip your toe in the authentic pool of 1980s artwork. Clouds, geometric forms and brilliant color combinations abound. Yes, I’ve found endless inspiration here for my own wall art projects. And I’m thinking about painting some geo designs directly on a bedroom wall (or at least, on a series of canvases that will hang on the wall). The most comprehensive online source for ’80s artwork is Tumblr 80s Art. Check it out!
Dreamy geo artwork by Masoud Yasami:
1980s artwork by Dorothy Gillespie, featured at Tumblr 80s Art:
’80s artwork by George Green, featured at Tumblr 80s Art:
Now it’s your turn to share! What are your go-to sources for ’80s design inspiration? Leave a comment below…
All such striking and beautiful examples. Love it!! The Atlantis Condos totally take me back, as I am pretty sure they were used in the opening credits of ‘Miami Vice’ back in the day. Google image search has pretty much been my go-to for finding all things 1980s (and of course, Mirror80). Keep up the great work!
Hi Benjamin! Thanks for your kind words. 😉 And you’re so right about Google image search being helpful. When I first started this blog in 2010, there were just a handful of online interior design sources in terms of ’80s photos. Now thanks to Tumblr and the ’80s revival growing, there’s much more to enjoy! Thanks again for your comment.