Styles of furniture in the '70s

Written by martin cole
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Design innovation in the 1970s slowed down from the previous decade, but furniture designers continued to experiment with bright colours and industrial-style furniture. Italian designers were at the forefront of interior design and furniture manufacturing during the decade. The main focus of their work was on chairs and office furniture; both were revolutionised in the '70s.


Frank Owen Gehry, a Canadian, is famous for his work as an architect, but between 1969 and 1973, he produced a revolutionary line of cardboard furniture called Easy Edges. The work of designer and architect Paolo Deganello had a big impact on furniture design in the 1970s, as did that of fellow Italian Ettore Sottsass. His work included design in glass, jewellery, and lighting, but during the 1970s he was a prominent figure in furniture design.


Chairs became a canvas in 1970s for designers to channel their creativity. Seating was reinvented. Made from tubular steel, the 1971 Omstak chair represents the high-tech design that was popular. The chair was made from epoxy-coated sheet steel, decorated in bright, striking colours and full of circular cutouts. The Easy Edge chair by Frank Owen Gehry was a chair like no other. With a base made up of curling cardboard, it looked more like a sculpture than a seat. Paolo Deganello developed a collapsible armchair called the AEO. Each part of the chair was designed to be perfectly suited to its individual task. The armchair 4794 was also introduced in 1975. This was made from rigid, expanded polyurethane plastic that had been softened to produce a curvy, simple design. Bean bag chairs were also common.

Office Furniture

Not much changed in home furniture during the 1970s, but office furniture was the focus of many radical designs. The Aluminum Group was a major player in office furniture design. The group's designers, Charles Earners and Ray Eames, designed furniture for Herman Miller. Ettore Sottsass designed office furniture for the Olivetti company. The designer produced the Synthesis 45, a thick and vividly coloured chair. The Support, by Fred Scott, was an office seat that would not be out of place in an office today. With an aluminium frame and cushioned seats, the chair was height adjustable and had wheels.

Colour and Material

Colours such as beige, orange, chocolate and peach were popular in 1970s interior design, as were cream, gold and avocado. Chrome and polished steel were common materials. Wooden furniture in the home would have been either pine or Scandinavian teak.

Other Features

The interior design style of the 1970s had a high-tech, industrial feel. There were many geometric shapes in all kinds of furniture. Furniture was thick and chunky, and fibre optic lights were all the rage.

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