In the seventies, the design world tired of minimalism and austerity and introduced new morphologies, wilder patterns and natural colours into interiors. Although for a long time the aesthetics of this period were of no interest to anyone in this country, we now return to it with admiration. In retrospect, it is clear that some design gems were created even during the political dark ages. We have found (almost) all of them for you.
After damnation comes comeback
Households all over Czechoslovakia looked almost the same, there was nothing to choose from, so few people thought about the aesthetic value of home furnishings. Besides, who would want to remember the time of normalisation in the free 1990s? Most people were glad that the regime, the brown chairs and Mr Vajíčko were gone.
It is only in the last fifteen years or so that a wave of nostalgia has risen up, not for the traditional 1960s or the First Republic, but for the reviled 1970s and 1980s. The result of this nostalgia was the success of the well-attended exhibition Husák's 3+1 at the VŠUP Gallery in 2007 or the retro TV series Vyprávěj. As people begin to remember everyday life, they are slowly becoming interested in furniture from that period again, but the biggest boom is yet to come.
Seventies even in your living room
At Nanovo, we have always enjoyed searching for iconic pieces of Czechoslovak design. And perhaps our favourite part is finding those that have been forgotten over time, perhaps because they were made for a particular object that has lost its lustre.
This selection of the best design from the 70s and 80s brings back memories of retro homes, hotel interiors and smoky bars, designs you know well and those you'd like to (re)discover. For more on the aesthetic of the era, read Architecture and Design of the 70s and 80s.
The chair was designed by Petr Švácha and manufactured in 1978 by the District Enterprise for Local Development in Sokolov. The wooden parts were renovated in the workshop, the chrome parts were carefully cleaned and the chair was reupholstered.
Conference table designed by Petr Švácha and manufactured in 1978 in the District Enterprise for Local Development in Sokolov. The wooden parts have been restored in the workshop and the chrome parts have been carefully cleaned.
The whole chair is designed in a very geometric style typical of the sixties. The chair is made from solid wood. Completely refurbished in our workshop, including new upholstery in mustard fabric.
A table from the bar of the original Kamyšin Hotel in Opava, built between 1984 and 1985. The table has a chromium-plated metal base made of bent tubes, the table top is made of green natural stone set in solid wood stained mahogany. The table is in good condition with some light scratches on the wood of the table top.
Coffee table from the workshop of the ceramist and sculptor Ales Werner, who made it as part of a collection in the 1980s. The table has a solid white glazed ceramic leg and a solid veneered wood top. The table has been completely restored and is in excellent condition with no damage. It is signed by the artist on the bottom.
Potholder, design by Aleš Werner
Ceramic pot stand from the workshop of the ceramist and sculptor Aleš Werner, who made it as part of a collection in the 1980s. The stand is made of white glazed ceramic, lined inside with a galvanised aluminium insert with brass trim. It is signed at the top with the artist's signature.
Armchair made of bent wood designed by Jan Bočan for the Czechoslovak Embassy in Stockholm and manufactured by Dřevopodnik Holešov. The wooden structure is made of bent slats and covered with veneer. The chair has its original upholstery in excellent condition.
The corduroy-covered wooden chair was designed by Zbyněk Hřivnáč in the 1980s for the Zlatá Praha restaurant of the Intercontinental Hotel in 1986. The wooden parts were completely renovated in our workshop and the original seat and backrest were reupholstered in green corduroy.
A replica of a chair originally designed by Otakar Binar for the Avion hotel bar in Jested. The chair has the original shell construction, reupholstered in beige fabric, and all the chrome parts are new.
Photo editorial: A love of things that age well.
In the seventies, the design world got a little tired of minimalism and austerity and introduced new morphologies, wilder patterns and natural colours into interiors. We decided to explore this relatively unexplored design era through photography and invited three models who suffer from the same weakness as we do: They love old furniture.
The three brave souls who joined us to photograph furniture from the 70s and 80s are influencer and creative Lukáš Zachara, one of our first clients, textile upcycling master and friend Jana Valachovičová and interior designer Veronika Floriánová. We conducted a short interview with each of them on the subject of tradition, furniture and recycling.
What is your relationship to Nanovo?
Very positive, because I think it's a good thing to treat old, beautiful things in such a gentle way. Both visually and in terms of sustainability.
Do you have a favourite design and furniture era?
Definitely Functionalism, because it brings together the things I look for - functionality, economy. I also like the materials used. I'm into a bit more colour now and my tastes are slowly changing, but functionalism is still my favourite.
We have that at Nanovo too - we just like materials that age well, like metal, concrete or leather.
Yes, that sounds great - materials that age well. Can we please just say I invented it? :D
Let's share! And what about the furniture in your house? Do you mix styles or stick to one?
I prefer less furniture, I don't have a thousand tables at home. I like a lot of textiles, which makes up for the colour scheme, which is otherwise very austere in my house. It's kind of a monochromatic interior with a few accent colours.
Would you buy some of the things we have photographed for your home?
I don't know if I would buy anything immediately, but I think it's like clothes - every piece can be used in a certain style. I really liked the yellow chair, then the easel/ashtray, I would definitely put a flower in it. The table is great, although I think it's too dark.
Did you immediately have a story in your head about the furniture?
Yes, I immediately wondered if the check chair was original or if it had been reupholstered.
Well, the upholstery is new. It probably wasn't this wild in the 70s, it was probably more khaki or beige... Now I have a question for you. Do you think the design of the furniture we surround ourselves with affects our lives?
Well, what kind of question is that :D Definitely. Even more than we think. Not just at home, but everywhere we go or work. Light, environment and then furniture are key.
What do colours mean to you?
For me it's a tool to complete the mood, and above all it's fun. We shouldn't be afraid of them at all.
How important is recycling to you? Not just with furniture, but in general?
It's a lot in fast fashion at the moment, but even with furniture we should focus on the use of materials, for example. It's a shame there aren't more people like you who care about making furniture last longer. Nowadays it is common to buy things and throw them away quickly. That's why I appreciate what you do.
Lukas works in the creative field and loves visual quality in any form. He uses the pseudonym Zachy_zacharaa on social media.
What is your relationship with Nanovo?
I like Nanovo very much and as you like to remind me, I am your first materialised customer.
What is your favourite furniture era?
The sixties and seventies.
What style of furniture do you have in your house? Do you mix different styles and periods?
I don't like it when everything is in one style, it feels so artificial and impersonal, so I mix vintage - mainly 60s, 70s and 80s, but I also have an older one at home a couch from Slezak. Oh, and some white stuff from Ikea.
How would you describe your relationship with furniture from the past?
I prefer to get something that's been around longer and is useful, but on the other hand, if I use something a lot, I'll happily get a "dirty" thing from Ikea that opens easily and can be used several times a day. I'll get an inconspicuous one, so it's not too obvious, so it's white, and I'll have furniture to go with it that I like looking at.
Do you think that furniture affects our quality of life?
I'm sure it does. Not just the furniture, but the whole aesthetic. If I'm surrounded by things that are beautiful and fit together, I'm in a better mood than if I'm in a place where things are damaged or broken. So furniture definitely has an impact, and often it's not just the mood that matters, but also the health implications - chairs, beds, etc.
What about colours?
I always get the same ones. I certainly don't have anything yellow or red,
I always alternate between green and blue. The things that don't get much attention are the white pieces of furniture from Ikea.
Jana's career is somewhere between medicine, art and architecture. She loves old furniture and that's how she got to know Nanovo when it was founded. She was one of our first clients!
How long have you known Nanovo?
I have been following and supporting Nanovo from the very beginning. I am very happy that such a concept has been created here. I think there is a lot to learn and build on.
Do you have a favourite period in furniture?
It seems to me that the more you get to know, the more you like. At least that's the case for me. I look with admiration at furniture from the 1920s by Le Corbusier or Mies van der Rohe. I like it for its timelessness, its elegance. I like the Italian furniture of the 50s by Gio Ponti or the famous iconic pieces by the Eameses. I'm open to all styles, I think I can find something I like in everyone. So at home I prefer a mix of styles. I like it when the base of the interior is simple and modern, more in neutral tones, complemented by either a bold material texture or a timeless piece with history.
How would you describe your relationship with furniture from the past?
My relationship with things and objects from the past is easier to form and often deeper than with new objects. It's probably because I like stories and the idea that an object can make several generations happy.
Do you think that furniture design influences our daily lives?
Definitely. I think design is not just about what we see and how we like it. If I sat on an uncomfortable chair or armchair every day, I'd probably be in a worse mood than if I rested on something comfortable, thoughtful and appealing.
What role do colours play for you?
It seems to me that colours are the most important thing when it comes to changing styles and fashions. I prefer natural materials and their colours. I like bolder colours as complementary accents, on textiles, accessories, solitary pieces or paintings.
Veronika is an interior designer who lives for art, architecture and nature. She has an Instagram profile, Behind Art with Baby, with tips on cultural places that are #babyfriendly.