As a writer for Apartment Therapy, I spend a lot of time predicting trends, and watching trends come and go. I also spend a lot of time thinking about why certain trends come and go. Interior design is always being influenced by outside factors—certainly fashion, and definitely pop culture. So I was intrigued when I ran across writer Adam Gopnik's theory that cultural nostalgia has a certain rhythm to it, and that at any particular moment, the era we feel the most longing for is the one approximately 40 years past.
In a piece for The New Yorker, Gopnik outlines his theory, one that he calls the Golden Forty-Year Rule, which is that: "the prime site of nostalgia is always whatever happened, or is thought to have happened, in the decade between 40 and 50 years past". He offers up a few examples, from the fascination people in the 1940s felt for the turn of the century, to the '60s nostalgia of the first decade of the 21st century, with "Mad Men" as its most prominent example.
The reason for this, he proposes, is that many of the directors and producers who control which TV shows and films get made are around 40, and these middle-aged creatives feel a longing for the allegedly halcyon time just before they were born, a perfect world unsullied by their imperfect memories.
One could argue, perhaps, that Gopnick's examples are a bit cherrypicked, or that perhaps not everyone who decides what movies and music and TV shows get made is right between 40 and 50, or that perhaps not everyone feels a particular nostalgia for the decade of their birth (although I do have a bit of a soft spot for '80s neons and leg warmers, so there's that). For the sake of this article—let's go with it!
If we use this predictive tool to determine which decade our cultural eye (and therefore our design sensibilities) will fall on next, then what we have to look forward to is not a renaissance of the interior design of the '80s (although there's already a bit of that going on right now), but rather the '70s, the era of bold earth tones, wild shapes and copious houseplants (a la this living space from Lean + Meadow).
The houseplants thing is clearly already in full swing, and we are starting to see a return to darker, bolder colors in interiors. Does this mean that supergraphics and crazy mod furniture are next? Maybe a revival of the fern bar? Perhaps rattan will pop up more in interior furnishings (though I could get on board with the chair in the above photo from Dimore Studio, surely)? Stay tuned.
This interior from Milk Decoration—so '70s. If this is what's next, I'm on board.