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1960s design Grunfled "Buffalo Ostrich"

Paco Rabanne, metal dress

be groovy!

In the 1960s for the first time young people were leading fashion, style, culture and design instead of fashion and style belonging to a privileged few rich people.  Small boutiques and independent designers meant that fashion was created from the street by young people.  Mini skirts from Mary Quant and retro Art Nouveau influenced clothes from Biba contrasted with space-age metal dresses from Paco Rabanne.
Pop art and culture was "Popular, transient, expendable, low-cost, mass-produced, young, witty, sexy, glamorous and Big Business" (as defined by the British artist Richard Hamilton).
Pop was superficial and modern.  Andy Warhol invented the idea of the superstar and helped create the cult of celebrity we have today.  He said the "In the future, everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes".

Art and design in the 1960s have had a huge influence on culture now.  The 1960s saw the beginning of the cult of the consumer and a concentration on youth culture.
The years following World War II had been difficult, but as rationing was lifted and economies began to grow and prosper again in Europe, Japan and the USA, people became more optimistic about the future.
The concentration was on cars, electronic goods and new technologies and materials.  Science fiction films that had been popular in the 1950s began to influence design in the 1960s in terms of colour, style and materials – the future was going to be full of rockets and space travel with lots of gadgets to make life easier in the house.  The Space Race was on between the USSR and USA, with the Americans beating the Soviets to the Moon.
Designers made airports look like spaceports, full of the promise of adventure with modern, modular, plastic and chrome furniture.  Office and house interiors were reduced to clean, futuristic spaces and filled with cool furniture made using new manufacturing techniques from moulded plastics and metals.  Everything had clean and geometric lines – either smooth curves or sharp, square edges.
Advertising was everywhere: on television, shop signs, billboards and packaging and in magazines and newspapers.   The difference between art and design grew blurred as artists such as Warhol and Lichtenstein used adverts, logos and comics as inspiration for paintings.  Designers started using ideas from art in their designs – taking Op Art patterns or abstract colours and contrasts and making shop interiors or packaging look like something from an art exhibition.
The Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan broke from the music and stylings of the early 1960s taking the drugs-influenced psychedelia of London and San Francisco as inspiration for designs for their album and poster artwork.
Youth culture in Europe and North America embraced new ideas and new designs.  They looked for fun and colourful alternatives to the dreary (as they saw it) recent past.  It is normally important to talk about form relating to function in design, however design in the 60s was also about sending out messages.  Having cool clothes, gadgets, furniture and cars sent a message out that you were young, modern and "with it".

Space age designs Joe Colombo, Roll armchair with footstool,

Breaking with tradition paper dress, 1967

The 1960s saw the beginning of a throwaway culture, with paper dresses and mass-produced plastic items.

New models Austin Mini, sketch by

The Austin Mini, with its revolutionary new side mounted engine, was a small, sporty, trendy car favoured by bright young things, including film stars of the day.

Plastics de Pas

The advent of plastics as materials for making furniture and other objects meant that people could buy cheap and fashionable objects which were not meant to last, but could be replaced when they went out of fashion. No longer were young people tied to using their parents' hand-me-downs.

1960s fashion in the round Mr Fish suit, 1967

Use Quicktime Player to view these movies:
Mr Fish suit; Mary Quant skirt + jumper; Foale + Tuffin dress.

Counter culture Bob Dylan, poster

The end of the 1960s saw a backlash against consumerist culture and the governments that were involved in the Vietnam War and other conflicts. Inspired by psychedelia, fashions from other cultures and rock music, young people rebelled against their parents' ways of life.

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