Come On, Get Happy – Resurgence of the ‘70s in Hospitality Design

Sarah Pelham

Flares, platforms, tassels and shearling collar coats are filling the catwalk. It’s official – the 1970s are back! Every year the hospitality design market sees the re-emergence of a particular period. In recent years, mid-century modern inspired design has been the ruling influence, but this year the vibe is turning to the 1970s.

Does this give you a feeling of nostalgia or more of panic? Personally, I feel a bit nostalgic. How could you not like the era of the iconic “Brady Bunch” and “Partridge Family”? It was a time when pattern, texture and color were of paramount importance. Individuality paired with self-expression were trademarks of this generation. Design elements were tactile, bold and greatly influenced by the back-to-nature movement, which was globally fueled by the world’s changing political and social climate.

hospitality wood

Hospitality design elements were tactile, bold and greatly influenced by the back-to-nature movement.

In alignment with the 70s, HD Expo 2016 was a potpourri of different styles, reminiscent of a time of exploration and experimentation. I found a mixture of colors, patterns, and textures, making it hard to zero in on one overall hospitality design trend. (I’m glad to say there were no signs of macramé plant holders!) I found hospitality products with a crafted feel, exemplifying the basics of skilled craftsmanship. Products were grounded or ordinary, demonstrating that slowly acquired skills are admired. In our high-tech digital lives, people are yearning to see craftsmanship, whether it is in hand woven textiles, hand forged metals or carved wood pieces. A resurgent interest in reclaimed woods, laser cut detailing, chiseled and hammered finishes were abundant. In the world today, there’s an appreciation of everyday materials that are unpretentious but explicit. People are redefining spaces by including products that “speak” to them and removing the rest of the clutter. Artisan goods will continue to make waves, so opt for unique, individually crafted statement pieces.

hospitality elements

Sarah Pelham found hospitality products with a crafted feel, exemplifying the basics of skilled craftsmanship.

In regard to textiles, I saw a range of styles including a variety of abstract felt cut-out shapes forming a pattern, handmade woven chunky wools and tactile fabrics with raised textured yarns, all supporting the desire for design to have a personal touch. Hand woven items using natural dyes and fibers were prevalent, as well as textiles with a regional influence in the form of sheepskins and pelts. Global cultural influences for hospitality design, such as ethnic tribal embroidery, embellished baroque and lace flocked wallcoverings, were additional examples of the modern day crafted products on the HD catwalk. Wall finishes brought tons of dimension, texture and vibrant color to an otherwise flat surface in the form of large graphic patterns like damask, modern abstract organics and geometrics.

hospitality fabrics

HD Expo 2016 showcased handmade woven chunky wools, abstract felt cut-out shapes forming a pattern and tactile fabrics with raised textured yarns.

Parallel to the 70s, the movement towards combining a wide mix of materials is on the rise. Different pieces in different finishes, moving further away from the traditional idea of “matching” items to furnish a space. My biggest takeaway? It’s time to start experimenting with unexpected elements that appear handmade, adding personality to a space and getting away from the look of mass production.

hospitality design

Experiment with unexpected elements that appear handmade, adding personality to a hospitality space.

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