Two broad, discernible trends have been apparent in interior design and decoration since the end of the Second World War: one largely retrospective, the other essentially futuristic. Within the latter category, many architects, designers and manufacturers have enthusiastically embraced new imagery to create innovative styles that simply have not been seen before. The most prominent examples of this appeared from the late 1950s to the mid-1970s, and primarily involved the depiction on fabrics and wallpapers of cellular structures newly exposed by microphotography, and of striking figural, geometric and abstract motifs derived from Pop and Op fine art and Psychedelia. At the same time, new synthetic fibres, plastic and alloys were rapidly adapted to the manufacture of not only textiles and wallpaper, but also furniture- a constantly evolving process.
In contrast, the retrospective movement has been both more extensive and diverse. Comprising a range of historical-revival styles that have been either replications, adaptations or reinterpretations of the original, it was initially fuelled by an aesthetic rejection of the unremitting rationality and minimal use of colour and pattern that characterized Modernist interiors earlier in the 20th century. In many cases this has involved restoring period homes to their original decorative styles, and in many others it has taken the form of often strikingly inventive recolouring and patterning of originally plain, unornamented, Modernist architectural shells.
Specific examples of style revivals in Britain and Europe have included an Art Nouveau revival in the 1960s and 1970s, and an Art Deco revival in 1970s and in 1980s, while in America Colonial and Federal styles proved fashionable once again during 1980s and 1990s. Less specific examples have included the ‘country house’ look, based on the comfortable, chintz-covered rural interiors of the late 19th and early 20th century, but now applied to both urban and rural houses, and a general revival of medieval and, especially, Classical motifs and imagery-Classicism, in all its manifestations, being the least faddish and most enduringly fashionable style of the late 20th and early 21st century.