The Most Influential Interiors Trends, Decade by Decade

Nicole Singh

When it comes to spotting the latest interior trends, the truth is, those trends are often borrowing and adapting signature statements from former decades. More recently, we've seen mid-century modern and Art Deco accents in a lot of in-store furniture creations, but as with any trend, its popularity is cyclical. So, what's the best way to discern what your interior style penchant really is? Our suggestion is knowing your history, where these trends originally began, and the key features that separate them from others. To help us, we asked national field visual manager of Pottery Barn, Rhys Duggan, to help us curate the most influential trends of each decade. (Having completed a Masters of Design, he made for the perfect expert on the subject.)

Consider this your back-to-school lesson on every interior trend since Queen Victoria last sat on the thrown, and shop our favourite pieces from each trend below.

The 1900s: Art Nouveau

"Art Nouveau was the dominant style of fine and decorative pieces between 1890–1910. This movement saw everything from furniture and architecture to jewellery and textiles emulate forms of nature, specifically flora," Duggan says. While it's hard to replicate Art Nouveau in its true form, we like the idea of adding a statement piece to a minimal room for a point of difference. Duggan adds, "The colour crimson is particularly characteristic of this movement."

Tiffany Emporium Ancient Dancing Lady Lamp ($99)

1910s: Art Deco

Thankfully, the Art Deco trend is still prominent, making it easy to source furniture inspired by this era. "Unlike its preceding art movement, Art Deco pieces are elaborate and atypical," says Duggan. "It was not uncommon to see a combination of multiple materials in one piece during this distinctive, glamorous movement, i.e. a stainless steel-framed sofa upholstered in leather. Also, round mirrors and geometric textures became staples during this period."

Life Interiors Glove Arm Chair ($999)

1920s: Bauhaus

We're predicting that this will be the next big trend in interior design, with the use of primary colours making a big comeback this season. "Bauhaus combined form and function; and while there was minimal detail in the architecture and applied arts during this movement, Bauhaus made a statement by embracing bold and primary colours," Duggan explains. "Design, architecture, art, textiles, and graphics all come together in the same school."

Industrial Furniture Bauhaus Stackable Sled Chair ($159)

1930s: Streamline Moderne

"This style was inspired by transportation and industrial machines, taking its visual motifs from ocean liners and ships. Think: Rounded corners, low-lying horizontal forms and clean, strong lines," Duggan says. "Materials such as concrete, steel, and glass were very prevalent in architecture and applied arts during this period; everything from skyscrapers to household goods, such as toasters and radios, conformed to the streamline modern aesthetic." To incorporate this trend into your home, look for round, soft edges, and metal detailing. 

James Mont Table ($2947)

1940s: Modernism

"Three words: Less is more," says Duggan. "The modernism movement was inspired by the machine age and new technology in architecture and decorative arts," he adds. "Less emphasis was placed on decoration, as the focus was form and function. There was an honesty to materials that become features of the design. Designers were creating machines for living in the new technological age, using materials such as tubular steel, glass, and concrete." We love the rustic edge that glass and steel can give to any home, and using these accents in every room of will give it a unified aesthetic. 

Castle Road Interiors Hudson Coffee Table ($489)

1950s: Scandinavian

We will forever love Scandi-inspired living, especially when it comes to interior styling. "The introduction of Scandinavian furniture was arguably the most pivotal part of the Modernist movement," Duggan says. "It married minimalistic form and function to produce affordable furniture that was generally made from low-cost, durable materials, such as timber. Scandinavian furniture was attainable for all demographics—because, why should only the affluent be able to have stylish interiors?"

1960s: Space Age

Though we're not completely sold on a mustard-yellow room, we like the idea of having a nod to the '70s in small doses. "Inspired by the space race, materials and shapes began to resemble features of space travel and flight during the 1960s. This movement saw integrated technology attempt to take design into the future by embracing innovative materials, such as plastic," Duggan says.

NF Living Stockholm Vase ($90)

1970s: Back to Nature

Duggan reveals, "Design went completely off grid during the hippie movement. Self-sufficient designs and natural, up-cycled materials featured heavily during this period." We must say, we love a trend that also has a feel-good, environmentally friendly element. 

Ethnicraft Oak Sideboard ($230)

1980s: Post-Modernism

"This movement circles around a simple mantra: Less is a bore—more is more!" Duggan says. "Post-Modernism (aka POMO) was a humorous reaction to the direction of the modern movement. Think: Bold colours, clashing patterns, oversized scale, and excessive decoration—it was all edgy, cool and playful. POMO style is certainly an acquired taste, but it never fails to make a statement." If you're scared to experiment with bold colours, but are looking for some diversity in your furniture, an ottoman serves as the perfect investment, with low commitment. 

Life Interiors Chloe Ottoman ($229)

1990s: Minimalism

"Unsurprisingly, a minimalist movement occurred in the design industry in the wake of the wild, excessive POMO movement; simple became synonymous with sophisticated," explains Duggan. We suggest the kitchen for minimalism. Investing in quality tableware that withstands any trend will make them a worthwhile purchase. Duggan adds, "Whites and neutrals were very prevalent during this period, and there was a heavy focus on creating a comfortable, 'homely' home." 

Noritake Serving Platter ($46)

2000s: Green, Flat-Pack, and Replica

"With the rise of environmental consciousness, green became stylish," says Duggan. "Society no longer looked past unethical conducts, so designers looked to minimise the impact their footprint and became innovative in their approaches to design." Working at home began to be a reality for most at this time, so late nights by the couch could become a little more bearable with multi-purpose furniture.  

Ethnicraft Sofa Side Table ($260)

2010s: Bespoke

"In a global marketplace where smart technology is so accessible, good design is now available to virtually everyone at any given time," says Duggan. "Consumers look towards something unique to differentiate themselves, and see a genuine meaning in their purchases. Consequently, there has been a rise in handmade and bespoke goods around the world, evidenced by the success of digital market places such as Etsy." And nothing screams "millennial chic" like a neon sign hung above your bed. 

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