5 of the most popular 20th century design trends that we still love

Take inspiration from some of the 20th century’s most popular interior design movements, many of which are still relevant today

1. Hollywood regency

If you love opulent interiors, you will appreciate the Hollywood Regency style that was popular in the 1930s, during the ‘Golden Age’ of Hollywood. Interior designers William Haines and Dorothy Draper are credited with bringing this luxe, glamorous style of furnishing to the world via the homes of Hollywood’s biggest stars. Think bold colour, stripes, florals, patterned wallpaper, rich textiles and gold, glass, marble and velvet accents. This style has evolved through the decades, with aspects of the look still going strong today.

2. Mid-century modern 

At the heart of the mid-century modern movement (which you’d be hard-pressed not to notice is back in vogue) are simple shapes with an emphasis on functionality. The style, prominent from the mid-1930s to the mid-1960s, grew out of early-20th-century modernism movements such as Bauhaus. Fans of this era will want to visit Palm Springs in California, which has the largest concentration of mid-century modern homes in the world and hosts Modernism Week every February.

3. Minimalism

In stark contrast to the Memphis and Hollywood Regency movements, minimalism honours light and space in an interior, with a focus on the essential features of a design. Minimalism emerged in the late 1960s as a visual arts movement, enjoyed a renaissance in the 1990s, and has continued to remain a strong influence in interior design. Minimalist artists and designers were influenced by Japanese architecture and the De Stijl movement, with an ethos inspired by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s “less is more” philosophy.


4. Memphis

Recent retrospective exhibitions and Memphis-inspired designs have reinvigorated this 1980s design movement. The Memphis Group were a collective of architects and designers brought together by architect and designer Ettore Sottsass. Zany shapes, bright colours and bold graphics were the group’s trademarks, in a reaction against the clean lines of modernism. Laminate and terrazzo were key materials used in products and furnishings. Their style influenced aspects of 1980s and 1990s design and created fans out of celebrities such as David Bowie.


5. Industrial

‘Industrial design’ was a term that came about in the early 20th century to describe the design of mass-produced consumer products, but it’s often applied to furniture and interiors as well. The style takes inspiration from utilitarian forms and raw building materials, including steel, brick and wood, with functional aspects of a building or product exposed and celebrated. Industrial architecture was first seen during the Industrial Revolution of the late 18th and 19th centuries. Many warehouses and factories are now being repurposed into dreamy, lofted homes, studios and businesses.

Words by: Fiona Ralph. Photography by: Felix Forest, Nick Scott/

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