1950s interior design was characterized by modernism and influenced by the Danish design movement, with crisp, sweeping lines and vivid coloring.


During the free love movement of the 1960s, interior designers reacted to the wholesome, traditional family values of the '50s with post-modernist riffs on elements of the past (Victorian and Georgian-inspired furniture) and the imagined future (groovy lava lamps).


The 1970s saw the birth of DIY culture, Space Age-influenced styles (like that pod chair), and the hippie movement's preference for rustic, "natural" furniture of teak and pine.


The 1980s saw the birth of "shabby chic" and the avant garde Memphis Group in Milan, with furniture in bold geometric shapes and colors. The decade of excess also brought plenty of chintzy, ostentatious interiors.


1990s interior design reigned in the excess of the '80s, opting for more minimalism and lots and lots of pine furniture.


The 2000s saw the Ikea flatpack furniture takeover and a bigger integration of tech into interior design, with flatscreen TVs channeling home cinema.


In the 2010s, self-expression has come to define the approach to interior design. So has economizing--the recession has led to smaller furniture with built-in storage.

Nostalgic For Lava Lamps? An Illustrated History Of Interior Design

From shag carpeting to shabby chic to Ikea, this interactive infographic visualizes a history of interior design.

Designers over at Harvey Water Softeners have created an illustrated guide to the evolution of interior design, covering everything from lava lamps in the ‘60s to the Memphis Group’s bold geometric shapes in the ‘80s to the Ikea flatpack takeover of the aughts.

The accompanying text is best left ignored. ("The swinging '60s saw the free love movement flourish underneath the dark spectre of probable nuclear annihilation." Huh?) But you don't need any prose to glean that while the function of the furniture in these homes doesn’t change—each image features a chair, a rug, a clock, a lamp, a shelf, and a plant—the colors, shapes, and materials evolve to express vastly different attitudes about what sort of place a home should be. It reminds us how design can reinterpret a single object in near infinite ways.

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  • Julian Johncraft

    God, how young do you have to be not to understand, and, worse, propose as rubbish, the "flourish underneath the specter of probable nuclear annihilation" line? (By extension, she knows nothing of the social effects and lingering post-history of World War One Europe.) How the pendulum swings and sees, in this particular arc, great break-free License and nihilistic Elan tending to follow or attend periods of great Death or Mortal Shadow. The churning carnage of WW1 begat the Swinging Twenties. The Mushroom Cloud as a continual forecast made artificial social sunshine one's mandatory Weather. Not to be too harsh, and I apologize for firing from the emotional hip a bit here, but this is yet another Bright Child putting her professional pen to paper through serious Swiss Cheese holes in her Understanding. To close: To imply that something is stupid because You don't understand it?.....is perhaps mispositioning the "stupid." Good news is that a little Homework turns it all around.