I thought I would start the year with something a bit light hearted, colourful and fun… so I’ve taken myself back in time with a little look at the sixties and seventies…
As a child born in the early seventies, the patterns and prints of the sixties and seventies were the ever-present backdrop of my first years - and in all my earliest memories.
I find myself sub-consciously drawing on these ingrained patterns as I draw and design. And it’s fair to say these decades have had a heavier influence on my artistic vision than most.
I didn’t actually realise this until I got this book, and started looking through at all the patterns, when I could see how I’d been influenced by the colours and swirls.
This is a wonderful book, and whether you’re already a big fan of sixties and seventies prints, or if you’ve not yet been introduced to the joys of this era, you’re in for a treat.
The book is packed with big, colourful images, with everything from original artwork, fabrics, fashion photos, and design sketches – so you can get a really thorough feel for the whole design process.
The book actually only includes prints from the sixties, but looking through the book, as it moves towards the later years of the decade, I can certainly see what I, personally, would recognise as a distinctly seventies vibe,
In the book, several separate styles are identified, moving from the start of the decade, to the end.
- Art into Print
- Revivals and Reflections
- Flower Power
- Lost in Multicoloured Hues
- Magical Mystery Tour
Take a look at this sample content below.... (from Google Books)
My review continues beneath...
Art into Print
Marnie Fogg writes that large scale motifs were in trend, influenced by Op Art and Pop Art, the work of Op Artist Bridget Riley and Richard Anuskiewicz
‘Swinging London’ was hip – with Union Jacks and depictions of the famous trendy London street ‘Carnaby Street’
- Monochromatic designs were common
- Optical illusions seen in designs
- Everyday objects become design motifs
- Intense colours and unusual colour combinations
Revivals and Reflections
Designers started to look to history for inspiration, writes Fogg. They turned towards the soft swirls of Art nouveau, as a reaction against the harder lines of the previous modernist style.
The values of the Arts and Crafts movement were also looked back to with nostalgia and revived.
This is one of my favourite sixties styles, and if you’re familiar with the 1960s revival of William Morris, this is the design movement it was a part of. Colours were definitely given a saturated sixties twist compared to the 19th century originals.
- Intricate and psychedelic paisleys, art nouveau ogees, and art deco geometric motifs are also part of this style, looking back to design history and reinterpreting it for the new era.
- Natalie Gibson and Bernard Nevill both worked in these beautiful styles, and the fashion boutique ‘Biba’ brought the look to popular culture.
Marnie Fogg writes that the modern world brought a plethora of commercialism and plastic, and the sixties ‘Flower Power’ hippies were a reaction against this, looking instead to nature for inspiration.
At its peak in the 1967 ‘Summer of Love’ and during the following years of political upheaval, ‘Flower Power’ became symbolic of a desire for peace and love.
- The daisy motif was popular, because of its innocence and simplicity.
- Flowers were bright, brilliant, and stylised.
- Painter and ‘fashion gardener’ Ken Scott created intricate, painterly and colourful floral designs that are most beautiful – I love them.
Lost in Multi-coloured Hues
As someone who’s grown up in the seventies, psychedelia is part of my mental picture of childhood – particularly remembered from childrens’ books and TV programs. But in the sixties, writes Fogg, psychedelia was heavily inspired by drugs – specifically LSD or ‘acid’.
Patterns swirl and undulate, and colours are ‘acid bright’ – truly multi-coloured and lavish! This was a period of excess and fantasy, and the patterns and colours celebrated in this style reached popular culture and design too.
- Natalie Gibson and Alexander Henry Fabrics created my favourite designs in this exuberant style.
Magical Mystery Tour
Towards the end of the decade, moving into the seventies, Fogg writes that patterns took inspiration from the wanderlust of the hippies – ‘exotic’ prints were treasured, and previously unfamiliar techniques, such as batik and tie-dye, captured the imagination.
India and the Far East provided much inspiration for designers, with paisleys and mandalas becoming popular motifs, and spicy hues providing the colour palettes.
Home-spun arts and crafts, and interest in sustainable lifestyles and recycling still continued, writes Fogg.
The patterns and designs of this period are some of the most interesting, for me – a real mixing pot of influences, cultures and styles to create a very colourful end to the sixties, ready to move into the seventies.
The book devotes a large part of this section looking at the designs of Celia Birtwell and Zandra Rhodes, which I found quite interesting, but I think my favourite pattern in this section has got to be the flamboyant design by Bernard Nevill for Cantini on page 186.
I highly recommend this book if you have even the slightest interest in colour, pattern and design. I loved it.
I have several other Marnie Fogg books (which I intend to review in due course) but this is definitely my favourite.
If this has whetted your appetite for the book, you can get it below through my affiliate links...