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The Days of Our Youth

Author: Peter Keat Published: 27th May 2008 22:43

The Days of our Youth.

 

Cosham crossing with Martins the electrical contractors shop visible behind the Corporation bus. It was in his shop that my father started his apprentice as an electrical engineer. Note wartime tank traps on the right of the railway line. For the technically minded the locomotive is 30466 a D15 Class with a rake of GWR Coaches behind. 

 

I thought that it has been a long time since I took a general overall look at life in the 1960's so here are a few observations.

The 1960's was certainly a lively decade in the arts and technology, many forces emerged influencing the change of design. The change in technology increased at a great pace, pushed by space travel, the defence industry and consumer booms.  The concept of fashion entered design. Cheap "fashionable" articles were made which could be thrown out afterwards. These products were designed to last for a short time only. The youth of this country emerged as a strong market force that influenced design, attacking the principles of tradition. Designers began to explore the future influenced by fantasy films and the decade of space. Italian designers became the leaders in design and the fashion setters, with everyone following their lead. The decade was remembered for the pop art culture, the Beatles, Woodstock, Peace, Love, Phsycodelia and the Youth Force. But what else?

The sixties are remembered for free love (not a lot of that around the Drayton and Cosham area as I remember), flower power (not much of this), and pop music (but plenty of this) although, as the saying goes, if you can remember the sixties, you weren't there, (do we really subscribe to that ?). The taste for American design that was so favoured in the fifties was out of date, as Swinging London became the centre of all things groovy. In the home, people wanted somewhere to tune in and drop out.

 

Each decade seems to rebel and react against what has gone before and it was no different in the sixties. The Modernism of this period totally rejected historical influences so the Sixties designers did the exact opposite, they plundered the past for inspiration. The result was a real jumble of styles with elements from all over, including Victorian and Edwardian, the twenties and Art Nouveau. But it was not just about replicating past styles, everything was given a slight twist to make it all its own . Pop art had a firm footing in the 1960s. Artists like Andy Warhol and David Hockney with their Pop art references to mass culture (soup cans, comic strips, images of icons such as Marilyn Monroe etc) crossed over into interiors, and onto murals, wallpaper and posters. Similarly the use of pattern and colour to simulate movement found its way onto everything from furniture to wallpaper. Artists like Bridget Riley, who worked predominantly in black and white, became the vogue. Whether you choose the hippy ethnic look or plastic space age, it was guaranteed be far out.

           Some of the names that came to the fore at this time are:-

 

Verner Panton the designer of multi-purpose furniture in moulded plastic in sculptural shapes
Terence Conran the founder of Habitat which  opened in 1964
Joe Colombo the designer who created the 'central living block', which had  compartments for living, eating and sleeping
Giancarlo Piretti the  furniture designer
Piero Fornascetti - ceramics
Peter Murdoch - created the disposable paper chair, covered in op-art designs, laminated and  intended to last 3-6 months.

 

Now what were the ‘in' fashions in the home in the 60's ?

  

Open plan - make your house as open plan as possible. Use sliding doors and moveable screens to partition off rooms; it was desirable to try to make one room should flow into another.


Wood - This disregarded for furniture however pine was used to panel walls and particularly ceilings. There was much use of tongue and groove which was then left unpainted for that Sauna feel.

Floors - To be a real  fashion icon you just had to have a shag pile rug - and the bigger the better

Colours - This was the era of vibrant colours such as bright red, purple and deliberately clashing colours. For example, team tangerine orange with shocking fuchsia pink. Black and white was also a typically Sixties colour scheme and used in everything from furnishings to crockery.


Furniture - Remember the plastic or transparent blow-up furniture and the 'S' and egg shaped items, and anything that looked futuristic and space age. Junk shop furniture, especially bamboo and wicker items, from any period were popular and a little work and a coat of paint it in bright colours and you had real ‘with it' furniture Flat pack furniture was also a sixties phenomenon


Wallpaper - had to be psychedelic -vinyl's in reds, purples, oranges with swirls and paisley patterns

Bean bags - created a laid back chill out room with mattresses on the floor, bean bags, loads of scatter cushions could be made into a conversation pit. Failing that you could always sit cross legged on the floor in the lotus position.

Bedroom - Some people even tented their bedrooms with drapes made from saris, and bed covers made from Indian cotton, covered lampshades with beaded fabric for that hippy harem look.

Fabrics - with huge repeat patterns in an Art Nouveau style or with the graphic images of Pop Art. Fashion designers like Mary Quant and Christian Dior realised the potential and they had started designing for interiors as well and some of their fabrics can still be found today


Lighting - a mesmerising lava-lamp or neon fibre optic lamps which changed colour were popular in the lighting fiels as was Moroccan inspired lamps or the ubiquitous paper lampshade we really chic in the 1960's.


Symbols - some people could pick up a paintbrush and do their own psychedelic mural, maybe using paints that glowed in the dark, or a black and white op-art mural or giant target 'Mod' symbols, or a Warhol-inspired poster.


Accessories - tongue in cheek accessories were popular -military uniforms on tailors dummies, Busby hats, and Victoriana such as Queen Coronation plates and royal memorabilia we all to be found in the modern home according to the designers. 

 

Mind you not much of the above reached our home in Farlington
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Comments

Kathryn S
At 15:22 on 29th October 2008, Kathryn S commented:
Anyone remember a fab 'n' groovy boutique under the Tricorn called Strictly for the Birds? Some good copies of Ossie Clark gear...
Kathryn S
At 15:25 on 29th October 2008, Kathryn S commented:
Manor Court youth club on a Friday night - the highlight of our week, with a live band every time, including, I seem to remember, The St Louis Checks. A groovy scene.



Peter K
At 21:53 on 29th October 2008, Peter K commented:
That's right Kathryn, the Manor Court Club was the highlight of the week as I pointed out in my article. The live bands were great. When did you start going? I was there on opening night and have the photos to prove it.

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