Retro revisited

by Andy Bryenton

In interior design, the concept of deconstruction has come to mean different things to different people. From peeling back layers of a building to reveal its past, through to mixing and matching furniture, which has been deliberately distressed or remade, to taking apart the traditional forms and angles, which make up our interior spaces themselves, and crafting new forms with the character of crystals, origami or geological features.

These trends play with space — but there’s one strand of this movement which blends time into the mix as well. Taking cues from a swathe of eras retro deconstructionism mixes not just the past with the future — for example, baroque lighting fixtures mixed with glass and chrome from the 1980s and Victorian era wallcoverings — but with futures that never came to be.

The emphasis is on personality and no small amount of personal nostalgia. Think of this matching and blending of styles — 1950s retro-futurism with its fins and chrome, understated Georgian utilitarian elegance, art deco curves and cyber-punk sheer facets — as a little like molecular gastronomy in cooking. Unexpected flavours can combine to create something more stunning than either.

The other good news is that this style embraces some of the best of the old, but also allows the best of the new. Modern hardwood flooring systems, for example, allow for a blank canvas which is both cutting edge — and also evokes the simplicity of yesteryear. Favourite old cabinets with their patina and mellow aged glow can be augmented with three-dimensional printed accessories.

We all have beautiful vintage objects from many times — as eclectic and different as antique typewriters, 1960s cameras and 1980s toys. This interior design choice is a way of expanding that aesthetic through your whole home, taking a step beyond the ‘shabby chic’ ethos of looking lived in, to an aesthetic of being lived in by a true individual.