Design styles come and go, but some seem to resonate more strongly than others. Even decades or centuries later, we continue to find inspiration from beloved art and design movements of the past.
Paying tribute to classic design styles in your own creative works is a great way to connect to history and tap into the timeless appeal of iconic aesthetics. Below are seven ideas for subtly bringing beloved old styles into your new designs and creations.
Go Op with Pop Art
The 1960s Pop Art movement is still one of the most recognisable and iconic aesthetics today. The bold, graphic style defined by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and others used commercial and popular imagery in a simple, minimalist way.
Bring the spirit of Pop Art into your designs with solid blocks of colour, repetitive images, Ben-Day dots, and contemporary subjects with irony or kitsch. Use screens and analogous colours straight from the neon retro palette. Silkscreen or stencil styles can also pay homage to pop art.
Pop art-inspired designs will grab attention with eye-popping colour and graphic punch. The familiar aesthetic makes it both retro and timely.
Add Some Art Deco Details
Art Deco style is easy to incorporate for a hint of 1920s flair. The bold geometric shapes, opulent decoration, and streamlined forms define the machine-age aesthetic.
Look for opportunities to bring in Art Deco touches like sunbursts, sleek lines and curves, or stylised floral and animal motifs. Metallic accents in silver, gold and bronze also signal Art Deco elegance. Use shiny lacquers, inlaid wood, glossy surfaces, and gleaming metals to echo the luxurious spirit.
Art Deco gives a high-end, glamorous feel that fits well in retro, vintage, or 1920s-themed designs. The iconic style adds class and visual interest.
Borrow Some Bauhaus Minimalism
The influential Bauhaus school of the early 1900s promoted stark, modern design with a “less is more” philosophy. Their style utilised shape, form, and function while eliminating decoration.
Incorporate Bauhaus minimalism by focusing on clean lines, white space, simple shapes, and utilitarian style. Use a minimal colour palette and lightweight, modern fonts. Remove anything extraneous to pare down to the essential elements.
The Bauhaus aesthetic brings high-impact refinement. The stripped-down approach highlights shape and form in an elegantly understated way.
Revisit the Groovy 1970s
No design style may be more quintessentially retro than 1970s chic. From earthy tones to psychedelic patterns, the Me decade created some iconic aesthetics.
Pull in 70s flair with burnt orange, olive green, mustard yellow, and earthy brown colours. Add beaded curtains, woven wall hangings, and carved wood accents. Use curvy serif fonts, natural textures, and hand-drawn lettering. Don’t forget the shag rugs and hanging macrame planters!
The 70s vibe gives creations a funky, bohemian energy with a feeling of wanderlust and idealism. The hippie-chic look stands out in a sea of sleek modern minimalism.
Embrace Traditional Oriental Influences
Eastern design styles bring serene beauty and meaningful symbolism grounded in rich tradition. Incorporating elements like Japanese zen rock gardens, Chinese dragons, or Korean latticework evokes history and heritage.
Display peaceful koi ponds, bamboo fountains, and bonsai trees to reflect the Japanese style. Introduce playful Chinese good luck symbols, embroidered silks, and porcelain vases. Include Korean geometric framing, knot motifs, and ondol floors for fire and earth elements.
Subtle Eastern influences provide calm, centred energy. They remind us to pause and reflect on simpler pleasures and quiet connections.
Add Some Vintage Charm with Cottagecore Style
The cottagecore style is a modern trend inspired by the pastoral charms of storybook country homes. The idyllic aesthetic celebrates handicrafts, herb gardens, and old-fashioned living with a weathered patina.
Bring in cottagecore elements like pressed flower art, embroidered linens, and distressed wood signs. Display ceramic milk jugs, woven baskets, and antique glassware. Accent with dainty floral patterns, natural textures, and references to baking, gardening, and teatime.
The cottagecore look infuses contemporary life with cosy vintage appeal. Handmade crafts and weathered details add homemade personality with a romantic rustic flavour.
Distress and Age New Items for an Antique Feel
The worn, weathered look of antique items comes from the passage of time. Faux ageing techniques can give new pieces an instant vintage vibe.
Distress wood by sanding edges, scraping paint, making nail holes, or scorching areas with heat. Apply antique glaze or patina paint to let it pool in corners and crevices. Paint or stain over areas, then sand away to reveal an aged, timeworn look.
Artificial ageing adds cosy imperfections that provide history and character. The classic look connects new pieces to beloved antiques of the past through small, detailed touches.
From sleek lines to handcrafted embellishments, today’s creations can honour history while also staking a claim in the future. With small, thoughtful details, we build a bridge between eras and remind people of the timeless joy of good design.