Popular Color Palettes Through the Decades: 1920s-1960s
08/02/2022 | Marni Mervis |
Popular Colors Through the Decades
Curious which color palettes were popular through the decades? We love history almost as much as we love color, which is why we previously shared with you popular color palettes from the 1970s—2010s.
Now, you may be familiar with our Then, Now & Forever® collection of historically-accurate paint colors inspired by architectural styles of the American West. Or even some of our most inspiring shades of pink for Victorian-era homes. But if you’ve ever wondered what color palettes define earlier decades, we’re taking you back—way back. All the way from the 1920s to the 1960s to showcase five decades of color. We love looking back at color and exploring the history and phenomenas within each era that led to the popularity of particular colors. Let’s dive in … we’re taking a look at the kinds of color palettes that helped define each decade from the 1920s to the 1960s.
Peace, love and rock ‘n’ roll. The 1960s were defined by the revolutionaries whose ideas drove the trends and cultural change of the era. Creating a revolution means being loud and disturbing the status quo—and the colors that rose to popularity during said revolution were equally loud.
From the hippie movement to civil rights and the mod subculture, which began in England before making its way to America, bright, modern colors provided a way for people to express their individuality and demand attention. Psychedelic colors like orange, pea green, magenta, and sunny yellows help put an exclamation mark on the swinging 1960s.
For more hot colors of the 1960s, be sure to check out our Poolside Gossip Color Collection, inspired by Palm Springs’ iconic homes of the decade.
Is it a coincidence that America’s baby boom period brought us a preponderance of pastels? Think Mamie Eisenhower Pink; that’s right, long before Millennial Pink arrived on the scene, the First Lady who served from 1953 to 1961 popularized an eponymous soft pink, her signature color, starting a trend that swept the nation. And then, of course, there’s mint green and turquoise, which popped up in bathroom tiles, kitchen appliances and automobiles throughout the decade. After the uncertain time of World War II, this postwar era brought with it a calming palette to soothe the psyches of the American people.
To see theiconic architect Cliff May contributed to this post-war era in his collaboration with Dunn-Edwards, click here.
Patriotic times call for patriotic colors. So was the case during the World War II era of the 1940s. Conversative sensibilities and the call for self-sacrifice in the name of the greater good led to an embrace of more traditional and uncomplicated design during this decade. Palettes included reds and burgundies, dark blues, forest greens and beiges.
The 1930s saw the influence of Modernism, courtesy of the Bauhaus movement and Walter Gropius. When we think about Bauhaus, we think of signature primary colors like blue, yellow and red alongside black and white. At the same time, however, the backdrop of 1930s America was also an ongoing Great Depression. And perhaps as a reaction directly opposed to those dark times, popular colors of the era were light, soft hues … seafoam green, muted gold, pale blue and lavender helped mark the 1930s. Given the color purple’s long-standing association with wealth and royalty, the popularity of lavender perfectly describes the aspirational feeling that colors lent during what was such a dark financial time for most.
The roaring twenties that preceded the Great Depression were tied to ideals of excess. A healthy economy, jazz, black market liquor, and the progressive and modern mindset of flapper culture all fueled an era of arts, exuberance and discovery. When it came to design, these concepts were represented through Art Deco … stylized motifs, geometric patterns, a renaissance of chinoiserie, accents of silver and gold, and rich colors. Specifically, luxe jewel tones aptly gave the 1920s its distinct, glitzy look. Colors such as jade greens, rich reds and peacock blue-greens helped define the era.
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