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Movements to Know: Chatting With a Design Historian About the Memphis Design Movement

When you think of interior and graphic design from the 1980s, what comes to mind? Geometric black and white patterns? Squiggly lines in primary colors? Zany patterns in loud color combos? While these design elements might just seem like part of the spirit of the decade, they’re actually all connected to a larger design movement. It’s called Memphis design, and it’s a style that had a huge impact on the culture of the 80s and beyond.

 


David Bowie was an avid collector of Memphis pieces—the dining table pictured above was his!

But Memphis is much more than that ubiquitous “look” of the 80s. It was a design movement that changed the way the industry thought. And in the past several years it’s shown up all over the place, in new formats and through new applications. Memphis design style is quite popular today, and it’s possible you’ve seen Memphis-inspired designs without realizing it—in celebrity homes, in the fashion industry, in retail concepts and restaurant design.

With 1980s-inspired design trends returning to the popular consciousness in the last couple of years, we thought it was time to take a deeper look at this iconic style. So we talked to Modsy’s resident design historian, VP of Style Alessandra Wood, to learn more about Memphis interior design—both its history and impact. Read on to get the scoop on this zany, groundbreaking 80s interior design style, and learn more about how it’s showing up in the design world today!

Memphis Design Style Living room

What is Memphis Design?

“Memphis style is a postmodern design movement that developed in reaction to the modern designs of the mid-century,” says Alessandra. “It’s a fun and frivolous style that doesn’t take itself too seriously.”

The way that this style uses colors—a lot of primary colors, along with some pastels—makes it feel youthful and lighthearted. Patterns are also a huge part of this style—from geometric shapes like circles and triangles to terrazzo, squiggles, lightning bolts, and spirals.

80s MTV logos featuring a variety of Memphis-inspired patterns.

“Memphis design pushed boundaries—pushing the design world into new frontiers,” says Alessandra. “In the postmodern movement, especially out of Italy, designers were challenging the forms that came before them.” And the way these designers used shapes was a huge part of that. 80s Memphis design style was unlike anything the design world had ever seen.

And yet, there were elements that were subtle nods to the past. “Designers in the Memphis movement were actively trying to go against what came before them, but they were also making references to the past,” Alessandra adds The geometric shapes they used referenced Art Deco design of the 1920s and the vibrant color palette was borrowed from the Pop Art movement of the 1950s.

Where did this design style come from?

“In the 80s, huge cultural shifts were taking place in Europe and America,” Alessandra explains. “The US had a really strong economy that was rebounding after the recession in the 70s, and there was a new wave of wealth that came into play.” People were revelling in new technology and were looking toward the future with excitement.

Members of the Memphis group gathered on the Tawaraya Boxing Ring, designed by Studio Azzurro in 1981

Members of the Memphis group gathered on the Tawaraya Boxing Ring, designed by Studio Azzurro in 1981

Enter: The Memphis Group

In late 1980, Italian designer Ettore Sottsass gathered a group of designers at his apartment in Milan. They started by simply sharing inspiration, bouncing ideas off of each other, and getting feedback on their sketches.

But, in their excitement of the concepts they were creating, they decided to develop a collection of furniture and decor, which they showed at an exhibition in 1981. This collective of designers formalized their connection and shared aesthetic, dubbing themselves the Memphis Group.

Fun fact: The name “Memphis” seems odd for a group of Italian designers. But it comes from Bob Dylan’s song “Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again,” which the group was listening to at their initial gathering.

Carlton bookcase, designed by Ettore Sottssas in 1981

The iconic Carlton bookcase, designed by Ettore Sottssas in 1981, is probably the most recognizable and widely known piece of design from the Memphis movement.

Taking Design to the Next Level

The furniture and decor the Memphis Group created was unlike anything that had been made before. “It was a counter-movement against the very minimal and modern design of the mid-century,” says Alessandra. “They were looking to create designs that were lighthearted, funny, futuristic, surprising, and—most of all—pushing against the trends of the day.”

They rejected the trends of the past—but at the same time, they did borrow or make reference to certain elements from the past, which gave their zany pieces a look that had a sense of familiarity. “They were very intentional about their use of youthful colors, shapes, and patterns,” says Alessandra. “The Memphis Group took design to the next level, with the intent of bringing this playful spirit to the forefront of popular culture.”

Their actual furniture designs never widely made their way into people’s homes—but the overall style entered pop culture in a way that solidified its popularity, inspiring a lot of design that we’re familiar with from the 80s.

Miley Cyrus’ new home,

Miley Cyrus’ new home, designed by her momma Tish and featured in Architectural Digest, is adorned with a few iconic Memphis designs.

How are we seeing this look show up in design today?

Though Sottsass officially dismantled the Memphis Group in 1988, the Memphis vibe has lived on in various ways ever since. It’s an aesthetic that has infiltrated fashion, architecture, product design (see: the original Apple watch from the mid-90s), retail concepts, television and movie sets (think: Pee Wee’s Playhouse and “The Max” from Saved by the Bell), and so much more. The bright colors, bold graphic prints, and vibrant patterns have been applied in so many different ways since the 80s.

“Today, we’re seeing elements of Memphis design in retail and public spaces,” says Alessandra. One element of Memphis style that’s become quite a trend in the past couple of years? Terrazzo. “It’s a current trend that has a similar ‘soul’ to Memphis,” says Alessandra. Depending on the colors used in the terrazzo pattern, “it can elicit thoughts of confetti or sprinkles, which speaks to the playful, almost celebratory feeling that Memphis design creates.”

But we’re also seeing pop culture icons latch onto the zaniness of this style. Exhibit A: Miley Cyrus’ 80s glam home. It has some blatant references to Memphis design in some of the rooms—including a Memphis original. In her glam-room lounge, she has a Carlton bookcase, designed by Sottsass in 1981. But the playful and over-the-top style found throughout her home captures the playful spirit of the design movement.

 

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What’s the lasting impact of the Memphis Design movement?

“What I see as the lasting impact of the Memphis design movement is the ability for designers to take themselves less seriously,” says Alessandra. “The way they created also acted as an invitation for people to be less serious in how they design their spaces.”

“In the 80s, the Memphis Group was Introducing moments of quirkiness and fun into interior design,” she adds. “We’re seeing that sensibility in design today in the way that GenZ and some Millennials before them, are feeling the freedom to add quirkiness to their home’s design.”

 

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You’ll Know it’s Memphis Design When You See…

Furniture and Decor With Playful Forms

Pieces designed with the Memphis aesthetic feel fresh and different. The forms are non-traditional—some might even say wild and wacky! They tend to be fluid and have a sense of movement and playfulness to them.

Squiggle patterns, also known as the Bacterio print

Squiggles

Squiggle patterns, also known as the Bacterio print, was actually designed by Sottsass and quickly became Memphis’s trademark pattern. It’s a pattern that comes to mind for many people when they think of 80s graphic design, and it’s often used in conjunction with other patterns.

A Bold Use of Color

Whether it’s the primary colors mixed together or softer, pastel colors like seafoam green and light purple, the name of the game is bold. These colors are used in prints and patterns, offering even more visual boldness. And these color schemes are often accented with pops of black for contrast.

Visual References to the Past—With a Twist

Even though Memphis interior design was all about looking to the future, the iconic Memphis pieces all had some allusions to the past. But those references were always a twist on the original—reinterpreting a popular visual or cultural reference point from the past. Some examples? The Proust Armchair by Alessandro Mendini is an iconic example. Mendini was a member of the Memphis Group—but he actually designed the Proust Armchair in the late 70s as he began exploring postmodernism and the idea of REdesign. The armchair is inspired by 18th-century Rococo style—but the wooden frame is hand-painted in bright colors with a pointillism technique, and it’s upholstered in a matching fabric. The result is a bold chair that captures the heart and soul of the Memphis movement. Sottsass’s Casablanca Shelf is another great example of a piece designed with visual references to the past. The design was inspired by Victorian-era hall shelves but is given more modern lines and finished in that quintessential Memphis style.

Black and White Patterns Galore

Graphic, high-contrast black and white patterns—especially patterns that feature geometric shapes and squiggles—were a major element in the Memphis design movement. And these bold patterns in black and white show up a lot in today’s take on Memphis style.

Laminate and Terrazzo Used on More Than Just Floors

Before the 80s, laminate and terrazzo were materials used in flooring. But the Memphis Group gave these materials new applications, making tables and lamps out of these two materials. Today, you can still find tons of laminate furniture on the market. And terrazzo? It’s a pattern that’s been applied to just about everything, from tables and lamps to notebooks, art prints, pillows, mugs, and so much more.

 

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Get the Look of Miley Cyrus’ LA Home (Designed by Her Mama, Tish Cyrus)

When we saw Miley Cyrus’ Los Angeles home tour in Architectural Digest, we immediately got thinking about how we could translate her style into a more approachable look. Her home, designed by her mother Tish, is boisterous, bold, and glamorous. It’s definitely a rock star’s home, with a look that really can’t be replicated.

However, there are some design principles and style elements in her home that you can definitely bring into your own home. It has a lot of modernist 80s design style throughout, with bright colors and bold geometric shapes. There’s definitely a maximalist approach at play in the styling. And it also has a good dose of Hollywood Glam style, which is a classic look in Los Angeles interior design. See? All elements you can apply in your own home if you feel so inclined.

So, we dreamed up how we could bring Miley’s style to life in a living room, bedroom, dining room, and sitting area. Ready to bring the look home? Read on for designer tips on how to get the look of Miley’s LA home.

Photograph of Miley Cyrus\' living room lounge with velvet blue sectional and dark charcoal walls and built-in shelves

Image from Architectural Digest

Rendering of Miley Cyrus reimagined living room with jewel toned furniture and dark charcoal walls

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Get the Look: Miley’s Living Room

Miley’s living room is about as funky as they come! Loud, bold, and poppy, it almost feels like an electrified space with all of the accents, shapes, and colors in the space. At a glance, the reproduction of her living room might read glam, but there’s a seriously eclectic mix of colors, patterns, and wall art that gives this space a ton of personality.

How to Get the Look

Go Glam: When picking out foundational furniture, like a sofa and accent chairs, lean into Hollywood Glam style. Velvet upholstery, channel tufting, bold jewel tones, and animal prints will give your living room a luxe foundation.

Try Out Minimalism: Much of Miley’s house is pretty maximalist. But with the bold foundational furniture in this living room, minimal accent furniture helps balance out the look to make it more approachable. So, opt for simple, clean lines in coffee tables, lamps, and side tables.

Have Some Fun: It’s obvious with her home’s design that Miley likes having fun. So, follow suit and let your funky side shine through in a Miley-inspired living room! Glamorous furniture can feel serious, so bring in some brevity through a playful collection of artwork, as well as funky patterns and bold furniture colors. You should even opt for a more casual layout so that even the arrangement of the room feels laid back and fun.

Photograph of Miley Cyrus\' bedroom with a metal four poster bed and and fur bedding

Image from Architectural DigestMiley Cyrus\' bedroom design with metal arched canopy bed, charcoal painted walls and starburst brass mirrors

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Get the Look: Miley’s Bedroom

Miley’s bedroom is a glam space that has high-contrast details and maximalist statements. Dark and moody, it gives off some major 80s revival vibes. The result is a dramatic and luxurious space that’s the perfect room to get away from the busyness of life.

Miley Cyrus\' bedroom design with metal arched canopy bed, charcoal painted walls and starburst brass mirrors

How to Get the Look

Bring in Those 80s Vibes: Moody 80s vibes is what this bedroom style is all about. Curved furniture and Art Deco-inspired mirrors set the tone, while gold finishes and faux fur, animal print pillows give off those classic rockstar vibes.

Make a Statement: The key to a Miley-inspired bedroom design? Making sure almost every decor piece feels like it could be the main statement piece. Arched canopy bed, boxy gold nightstands, a curvaceous sofa, textural table lamps—no one piece of furniture or decor claims the spotlight in this space. Individually, they’re all showstoppers; combined, become a maximalist haven. (The rug is really the only subdued piece of this room; its simple design lets the rest of the decor shine.)

Create Symmetry: To make a dramatic, maximalist space more serene (because you want a bedroom to be relaxing, after all) opt for a fairly symmetrical layout. Aiming for symmetry and balance in design makes a space feel more harmonious. In this design, though there’s a sofa on one side of the room and a bench on the other, the rest of the space is fairly symmetrical, with matching nightstands, lamps, and mirrors balancing out the statement bed and wall art.

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Photograph of Miley Cyrus\' dining room space with large concrete dining table and patterned dining chairs

Image from Architectural Digest

Neutral color scheme dining room with white marble table and patterned upholstered dining chairs

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Get the Look: Miley’s Dining Room

Getting Miley Cyrus’s dining room style is all about pattern play. We used inspiration from both her formal dining room and eat-in kitchen table to create this look—but we’d like to think she’d approve of the mash-up of design elements! Both spaces in her home featured highly patterned dining chairs and sculptural elements, giving off a modern maximalist vibe.

How to Get the Look

Mix Materials and Patterns: Go big on ornamental materials and patterns. Materials like marble and bone inlay give a space a luxe foundation, while more ornamental wood furniture—like the slatted wood bar cabinet featured here, or even a burl wood—add warmth while still feeling glam. Layering patterns into a space with ornamental materials ups the maximalist glam factor. Here, we layered a geometric-patterned rug under a set of textural patterned dining chairs to add some visual drama. (Designer tip: the blues in both of these busy patterns helps tie them together rather than having them compete for attention.)

Keep Furniture Forms Simple: To balance out all of the patterns, prints, and ornamental materials, keep furniture forms relatively simple and minimal.

Add In Decorative Details: Miley is a maximalist, through and through. So, it’s important to add decorative elements into your space to max out the style. Extras in a dining room could be a cocktail table, lots of tabletop decor, vases full of sculptural flowers, and plenty of other natural greenery.

Miley Cyrus\' living room with black walls and four blue velvet chairs.

Image from Architectural Digest

Rendering of Miley Cyrus\' living room lounge by Modsy with organic curved blue velvet chairs and a brass amoeba shaped coffee table

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Get the Look: Miley’s Sitting Area

With dark walls and a set of four matching accent chairs around a large coffee table, a sitting area like Miley’s is the type of space that might feel rather dramatic in the average home. But we gotta say—we kind of love it. A sitting area is a fun area to add to your home if you have the space; whether you have a long, narrow living room and need to break it into zones or you have a totally separate room to dedicate to it, we love how this type of space is designed for conversation and entertaining.

How to Get the Look

Incorporate Curved Furniture: This sitting area has curves! Curved furniture gives this space an 80s edge while also feeling quite organic. Since all four chairs are matching, the curves of these chairs become a focal point in the space. These same curves are echoed in the coffee table, and the round light fixture drives it home. The soft, organic curves offer a fun contrast to all of the metallic and manufactured materials in the space.

Create Contrast: A black wall can feel pretty moody and dramatic—but when paired with colors like powder blue and natural greenery, the space really pops. (Bonus: the contrast of light blue chairs against a black wall only further highlights their curved forms!)

Use Luxe Materials: To elevate a sitting area from a casual gathering space to something a bit more lounge-like, up the glam factor through materials. Here, you can see that in the velvet of the chairs; the gold finishes on the coffee table, chairs, and light fixture; and the marble tabletop. These materials give a simple design sitting area and air of luxury.

Miley Cyrus\' dining room buffet with eclectic gallery wall above and array of funky pottery on buffet surface

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Bonus Accent Area

Ok, we couldn’t help ourselves—we had to create just one more space that shows you how to bring that Miley vibe into your own home. This type of area could be along a wall in your living room, in a wide hallway or large entryway, or even in a dining room. Wherever it is in your home, the idea is to combine that glam 80s style with some funky playfulness.

Loud and funky, this little vignette showcases how contrasting pieces can really shine together. Two differently colored chairs flank a chunky, glamorous console featuring an eclectic assortment of art and objects. A maximalist’s dream, more is more with the surface styling of this piece. The funky shapes of the vases and sculptures collide with fun art pieces that range from photographs to humanist-inspired prints, resulting in a small gallery wall that feels a little modern, a little retro, and a whole lot eclectic.

Want more pop culture design inspo? Check out our take on Kendall Jenner’s LA home.

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The 80s Are Back: Here’s How Designers Are Styling With 1980s Decor Influences

We have some exciting interior design news: The 80s are back! But don’t worry—only the good parts. Think: bold shapes, natural materials, and geometric patterns. (No waterbeds, ruffled bedding, rag-rolled walls, or wall-to-wall carpet in sight!)

When you think of 1980s interior design, your mind might be drawn to walls full of those 80s glass blocks, or perhaps Laura Ashley florals or piles of shabby chic ruffles. Or maybe you think of The Golden Girls and Blanche’s bedroom design in all its Miami Boho glory. Preppy style, pastels, chintz, and geometric designs reigned supreme in the 80s.

80s Design Styles and Trends

The 1980s was an interesting time in American history. The economy was booming, and there was a wave of wealth and “new money.” Technology was making significant advances. And traditional gender stereotypes were being seriously challenged—with major pop culture icons exploring androgynous looks and more women entering the corporate workforce in high-level positions than ever before. It was a decade of opulence, of change and upheaval. And out of all of these cultural shifts came a lot of iconic interior design trends.

Want to walk down memory lane? Here are some of the most popular 80s interior design trends that people love (and love to hate).

Memphis-Milano Movement

Memphis Design

When you think of 1980s design, what probably comes to mind is bright colors, bold shapes, squiggly lines, and funky furniture and decor. What you might not know is that there’s a name for this style: Memphis Design. This look was created by the Memphis Design Group, a group of designers in Milan, Italy in the early 1980s. Pushing back against the minimal, modern look that was popular in the late 70s and early 80s, they started creating bold, colorful, zany furniture and home decor designs. While the Memphis Design Group developed this aesthetic, it was the application of the style in pop culture that brought it to the popular consciousness. (Think: the Saved by the Bell set, the early MTV logo, and the design of Pee Wee’s Playhouse.

 

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Glass-Block Walls

You can’t talk about design trends from the 1980s without talking about glass-block walls. Sometimes used in place of traditional windows or shower walls, sometimes used on interior walls to let in more light, glass-block walls were all the rage in the 80s. They added both style and practicality to a home—the practical part being that they let natural light in without being totally see-through, and they’re more energy-efficient than the average window! They may seem like a dated design element to many people today, but in the late 2010s, glass-block walls actually started making a comeback in home and commercial properties!

 

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Tropical Prints and Plants Galore

The obsession with plants didn’t originate with millennials in the 2010s—it was happening way back in the 80s (and even before). In fact, iconic interior designer Dorathy Draper first created palm-print wallpaper and fabric while redecorating the Greenbrier hotel after WWII; though it wasn’t until the 80s that tropical prints became a major trend. But once they did, you could see them everywhere. Once of the most iconic examples in pop culture? Blanche Devereaux’s bedroom from Golden Girls.

And the obsession with plants went beyond wallpaper and upholstery prints. In the 1980s, houseplants had a major moment—faux plants, specifically. Not as quality as the faux plants of today, the styles from the 80s definitely looked fake—and collected a lot of dust. So today, this trend gets a pretty bad rap. But the spirit of the trend was all about bringing greenery (and probably a bit of happiness) into your home.

 

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Lucite Furniture

Art Deco design had a resurgence in the 80s—and part of that renewed popularity was a love for clear furniture. However, rather than the glass furniture of the 1920s, the 1980s take was full of Lucite furniture. Lucite and acrylic plastic were first developed in the 1920s and 30s, and they grew in popularity as a furniture material in the 60s and 70s. But it was in the 1980s that clear furniture really hit its peak in popularity thus far, with Lucite being the favored material. (Fun fact: Lucite is a brand name of acrylic plastic. So, all Lucite is acrylic, but not all acrylic is Lucite.)

 

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Pastels

Memphis design is one one end of the color spectrum when it comes to 1980s styles and trends—full of bright primary colors. However, on the other end of the spectrum was a love for pastels in the 80s. Pastel room design was a very popular move in the 80s, including shades of soft pinks and purples, as well as sea foam green. Sometimes you’d see small applications of pastel colors, and sometimes they overtook a whole room, top to bottom. The use of pastels showed up a lot in the next two trends we’ll show you.

 

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Floral Bedding and Curtains

In the 1980s, upholstery was all about florals. Whether it was bedding, sofa and chair upholstery, drapes, or accent decor, floral and chintz patterns were everywhere. Laura Ashley is a home decor and clothing brand that helped popularize this trend—but you didn’t have to have the name brand to embrace this trend. And it wasn’t just one application of florals in a room. Often, you’d have a room full of florals, from the drapes to the rugs, plus chintz wallpaper, lampshades, and furniture. But it didn’t stop there. In the 80s, ruffles often went hand-in-hand with floral patterns, making this trend even more over-the-top.

 

Shabby Chic Design

The floral trend showed up in big ways in Shabby Chic design. This design style, which originated in the 1980s, was all about embracing the type of decor you might find in an old English countryside manor. Naturally, that included a lot of florals. But it also involved classic design elements and rustic finishes. The result was an elegant, feminine style that had some frills but was also quite comfortable and inviting.

How To Get an 80s Decor Look Today

Trends come and go in cycles, and 80s-inspired design elements have been slowly coming back in vogue for a while now. And while we’re definitely seeing a love of chintz come back in the Grandmillenial design trend, we’re seeing 80s-inspired interior design trends come to life more in the way of furniture shapes and materials, geometric patterns, and 80s color palettes. And even in some 80s-inspired takes on Art Deco-inspired design elements (a 100-year-old style that made a comeback in the 80s and is back in style again today).

Want to get the 80s look? We tasked our designers to show us how they’re designing with an 80s influence. Keep reading for a few different ways they’ve used 1980s interior design elements to get the look!

1980s interior design

Minimal 80s

With this minimalist take on 1980s interior design, a select few sculptural statement pieces take center stage. This design is more about the shape, material, and texture of the furniture than applied ornament or decor. While there aren’t many pieces in the space, the negative space lets the forms and textures shine—making this look perfect for the Minimalist Maximalists out there. (And you could easily amp up the drama with a bold wall color.)

The terracotta color of the chairs create a statement, while an otherwise black-and-white color palette creates contrast in the space. The chairs’ curved, sculptural design with a velvet finish speak to both the mod and glam elements of 80s design. Marble was very big in the 80s, so the dining table, while sleek and modern in shape, fits in with that 80s vibe.

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1980s interior design

Colorful 80s

With a bold color palette, this look gives a nod to the ubiquitous Memphis style of the 80s. The 1980s really influenced the use of shapes in furniture and decor—and this bedroom drives home that idea. Here, we see round bulbs combined with a sculptural nightstand and curved bed. Basically, with less “stuff” in the room, the forms of the furniture and decor are the stars of the show.

The color palette speaks to the bold use of color throughout 1980s interior design, but in a format that was most seen in Memphis design. The art, with its bold colors and layered geometry, drives home that homage to 80s Memphis design.

Need help from a Miami interior designer for your home? Modsy designers are pros at finding expert design solutions for rooms of all styles and locations!

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1980s interior design

Chic 80s

This living room is a glam, chic take on 80s design. Inspired by 80s beach house contemporary style, this look is all about bold drama through shapes and statement pieces. The “puffy,” rounded furniture has a sculptural quality, with the velvet sofa and chair feeling contemporary but very bold. The polished stone finish of the sculptural coffee table balances out the softness of the sofa and chair, and it also plays off the geometry of the rug and artwork.

The high-contrast palette—with black, white, and blush sitting center stage—has a feminine-inspired feel. But the color palette alongside the furniture forms balances the masculine and feminine sides of Chic 80s style.

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1980s interior designEclectic 80s

This living room, with its eclectic mix of shapes and materials, brings the funkiness of boho style to an 80s aesthetic. Natural materials like cane and rattan were widely used in the 80s—and we’re seeing that natural materials trend come back to life today in a big way. Today’s use, however, is in a lighter, trendier way—but it still gives a big nod to 80s design. The natural materials in this space balance out the bold forms and geometry in the room, making it feel more casual and approachable than some of the other takes on 80s-inspired design. Meanwhile, the low, rounded sofa (which has a very 80s vibe) compliments the natural materials of the cane and rattan.

The bold shapes in the mirror and table lamp are a nod to the forms made popular in the 80s. The wall art also features a bold, geometric design that is reminiscent of the Memphis design patterns of the 80s.

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Contemporary 80s

This look brings in some 80s design influences, but in a much “safer” way. It mixes contemporary 80s style with today’s transitional style for a less in-your-face look. With a more subtle approach, it relies on a few pops of bold 80s design elements on a neutral foundation—making it very easy to switch up the look of this space over time.

The 80s-inspired design elements noticeably come through with the bulbous lamp, the Art Deco-inspired mirror, and the glam acrylic vase. The pastel-hued wood console, with its geometric knobs, really speaks to the contemporary 80s vibe. The color scheme, combined with the art sketch, brings to life the soft, feminine side of 80s-inspired design.

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Iconic Interiors: How to Get the Look of Blanche Devereaux’s Bedroom

With a plate full of cheesecake and a wall covered in banana leaves, we are celebrating one of our favorite shows and style icons – The Golden Girls. Because the 80s trend is back, we gave Blanche Devereaux’s bedroom a 21st-century facelift.

To the untrained eye, if one were to look at Blanche’s bedroom today they might think it’s a little…over the top. The banana leaf comforter and walls. And drapes! The pink carpet! And pink chairs! And wicker everything! Blanche definitely wasn’t afraid of maximalism. But it’s maximalism with a very tropical boho flair (Dare we say she’s the original Jungalow queen?). It’s the Beverly Hills Hotel meets 1980s Miami interior design in the best possible way.

Blanche Devereaux's Bedroom with palm print beadspread

Our original re-design of Blanche’s bedroom

While an exact replica of her bedroom today might be a bit much, there are elements of her bedroom that would beautifully translate into a modern home. We had a few of our designers dream up modern-day takes on Blanche’s bedroom—and let’s just say we’re ready to completely redesign our own with these ideas. While there’s no Golden Girls wallpaper or Blanche Devereaux bedding in sight, there are plenty of palm prints, wicker, and glam elements to be found! Come take a peek inside the rooms and learn how to get the look!

Boho bedroom design with a rattan bed frame and pink decor inspired by Blanche Devereaux's bedroom

If You’re a Boho Blanche

This bedroom is a modern, boho take on Blanche Devereaux’s bedroom. (Like, if Anthropologie came out with a bedroom collection inspired by Blanche, it would look a lot like this.) It has a youthful, millennial vibe, with soft pinks making it a more inviting and soothing take on the original.

Of all the rooms in this blog post, this is the most literal take on Blanche’s style. But it’s definitely not an exact replica. Instead of going for banana leaf everything, we reinterpreted a tropical motif in the art and decor—from pillows to wall art, the rug with a pattern inspired by bamboo stalks, and even a real palm in the corner. Also: that chandelier. Talk about spunky and glam! Very Blanche, if we do say so.

Blanche was endlessly fabulous, so we also added some boho glam touches throughout the room to balance the tropical and natural moments, with the brass-capped side table, a velvet chair in a rich green, and the brass and lucite nightstand (which also happens to be a nod to 80s design).

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80s style bedroom with a canopy bed frame and orange rug, inspired by Blanche Devereaux's bedroom

If You Want to Bring the 80s Back

If Blanche Devereaux had a stylish niece or granddaughter, this is how she’d style her space. This is a more minimalist and trendy take on Blanche’s bedroom, but with some definite 80s vibes. Quite opposite of Blanche’s actual bedroom, this space has a lot of breathing room and has a minimal edge. We stripped down the design, got rid of all the frills and instead focused on the shapes and materials within the space, for a light and airy take on Blanche’s bedroom.

The retro shapes seen throughout the space—from the bed and mirror to the rug’s pattern and even the lamps and nightstands—are very much rooted in a 1980s take on Art Deco. The rug also brings some bold patterns and colors into the space, taking cues from the 80s but with a current, trendy lens.

Rattan was very big for Blanche, and those elements come through in subtle ways; we hinted at them in the nightstand and the basket at the foot of the bed. And you can’t forget the banana leaves. We opted for a palm print on the decorative pillows as the biggest moment of this but echoed that pattern through the use of actual palm leaves in the room and the trees in the wall art.

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Modern interpretation of Blanche Devereaux's bedroom from Golden Girls

If You Love a Little Kitsch

This is a more transitional, comfortable take on Blanche Devereaux’s bedroom. While some may say it’s a “safe” way to bring her style to life, it certainly doesn’t lack personality! It’s simply a more mature and polished approach.

This comfortable, sturdy bed grounds the room, and it’s supplemented with nightstands in a similar style—a mix of mid-century, contemporary, and transitional styles. Definitely more straightforward pieces, it’s the rest of the furniture, decor, and color scheme that give this bedroom more personality.

The seagrass bench and rattan chair are more literal takes on Blanche’s style. But really, the whole space is anchored in the color palette of Blanche’s original bedroom. However, we toned down the colors and made them more subtle, and then integrated them throughout the space. But various shades throughout the green bedroom design really bring that Blanche vibe to life.

There are also hints of gold throughout the room, which brings in a touch of glam. As does the area rug, in a plush, velvet-esque material and rich green, which lends to that chic, glaminess of Blanche. And, breaking up the more demure vibe, the bamboo mirrors and the wrapped vase in the corner add to a kitschy tropical vibe, as do the various palm-print throw pillows.

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Modern take on Blanche Devereaux's bedroom from Golden Girls, featuring a green bed, palm leaf rug, and rattan bench

If You’re Making Miami Moves

This bedroom definitely has that Miami vibe, with the boldest, most large-scale take on the banana leaf and palm prints. And the rattan bench, oversized rattan lamps, and solid pink textiles are a nod to both Blanche and the 80s. This is a modern Golden Girls bedroom if we’ve ever seen one.

Fun Fact: The banana leaf print that originally adorned Blanche’s bedroom was Don Loper’s 1942 Martinique version. He designed the wallpaper for the Fountain Coffee Room inside the Beverly Hills Hotel, where it still adorns the walls today.

But, to keep the space from skewing too 80s, we added a contemporary, streamlined bed frame to ground the space (but in a glam green to make a statement), along with the modern nightstands. The asymmetrical gallery wall also adds a contemporary touch while tying into the overall tropical boho theme of the room. And the chandelier adds a tropical glam vibe that is SO Blanche.

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Blanche Devereaux's Bedroom design with two pink chairs and a tropical rug

Golden Girls was a show about more than cheesecake and banana leafs. It shined the spotlight on social issues of its day, such as a group of women living together for financial reasons (something quite common today). The show also eloquently touched on issues such as female sexuality, gay rights, and life after marriage and children.

So thank you, Golden Girls, for being a friend (sorry, we had to) but thank you also for championing the message of women supporting women with humor and style.

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This post was updated on August 18, 2021