Design trends or cycles?

A little while ago, I was talking about the latest design trends and I got to thinking that just about every style that was mentioned as being “hot” was something we have seen before at some time in the past.

One of the “hot new trends” is high-gloss finishes. But there is absolutely nothing new about high-gloss finishes. They have been falling in and out of favor for as long as I can remember. My first remembrance of high gloss was in the mid 50s. Of course I was just a kid then but I was old enough to remember the slick “modern” looking furniture and kitchen cabinets with that polished, gleaming, bright-colored surface. Later, in the late 80s, there was a resurgence of demand for high-gloss finishes, only this time around it was called the “wet look.” It seemed like the flagship vignette of every cabinet manufacturer on the planet featured a slick, polished, mirror like finish.

In between the 50s and the 80s, we had the country look which featured a lot of oak and dark stains meant to elevate this humble wood to a higher plain by coloring it to resemble more prestigious (and more costly) naturally dark colored woods. In the 70s, we had the rustic look with rough dark woods and heavy tiles, usually garishly colored and very uneven surfaces. Of course the 70s also gave us those awful high-collared, open-necked shirts and ridiculous bell bottomed pants and leisure suits. I think we lost all sense of refinement during the 70s and I am not at all surprised that while we have seen revivals of virtually every design style from the Victorian to the modern, the one thing that (thankfully) never gets revived is the 70s.

In the early 90s, Smallbone appeared and gave birth to a revival of the European country look. Almost overnight the wet look vanished from showroom floors to be replaced with beaded face frames, bolection moldings and antiqued finishes.

It would seem that, as quickly as design trends come and go, if you blink, you might miss one. But not to worry. It’s a pretty good bet that it will come around again.

D.D.

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