Escapist Interiors: Rediscovering Retro-Futurism

Throughout time, whenever designers wished to escape, they started thinking about the future. And whether it was Oscar Nieyemer’s sinuous skyscrapers or the alien blooms of Eero Saarinen’s Tulip Collection, the future always looked curvy. Recently, it’s a trend that’s been creeping back into our interiors, culminating in 2020 with what’s being described as retro-futurism. A mix of fluid shapes, curious finishes and cosmic lighting, it’s an aesthetic you can expect to see more of as we transition into the high-tech homes of the future.


Sinuous Silhouettes

The desire to escape symmetry is as old as time itself. However, as a design idea, it really got going in the mid-century, when Verner Panton decided to create the cantilevered Panton chair out of a single piece of plastic. In doing away with the need for joins and bolts, Panton struck upon a smooth new design language that went above and beyond accepted typologies.


It’s this wonderfully sinuous style that characterises retrofuturist interiors. The edges are rounded and the silhouettes squidgy, creating a fluid yet futuristic appearance. Meanwhile, half-moon sofas and puddle-shaped chaises huddle together in stylish congregations, their generous silhouettes helping to create an inviting, relaxed atmosphere.


In their swooping drops and low backs, they represent an attempt by designers to draw out a new way of living, one that can keep up with all the myriad ways in which we are now connecting.

Saarinen Tulip Dining Table

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Net Coffee Tables

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Touch Me Textures

When space-inspired interiors first appeared in 80s sci-fi films they were rather like today’s Apple Stores. All white, cool to look at, but hardly the type of place you’d enjoy living in. All that has changed with the re-emergence of retro-futurism. Meandering silhouettes are upholstered in touch-me textures like velvet and boucle, while coffee tables and hard furnishings can be found in mesmerising coloured glass. Pared-back yet tactile, sinuous yet soft, it is the warm minimalism we have been waiting for.

Liquefy Side Table

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Pacha Lounge Chair

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A Cosmic Glow

Perhaps the easiest way to experiment with this statement trend is with stylish, sculptural lighting. While retro-futurist illumination can be soft and orb-like, many designers have taken it as an opportunity to bring slightly more exciting forms to light. Some of our favourites include &Tradition‘s UFO-esque P376 Pendant or the sculptural Nebula by Flos. Each reimagines our relationship with light as something divine, beautiful and all together mystical.

P376 Pendant Light

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Atmosfera Table Lamp

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Do you like the look of retro-futurism? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. If it’s something you could see working in your home, don’t forget that you can now shop the entire trend with up to 15% off sitewide at Chaplins. Just a little thanks from us to you this season. 


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