What hues come to mind when you think of 1950s colors? Most people think of carnation pink, light turquoise and butter yellow. What we think was history and what history actually was are often two different things. How do we mediate this circumstance? By referring to period documents. Here we have assembled 1950s color palettes, which represent four different design phenomena: Fashion, Interiors, Architecture and Automobiles.
Arborite laminate samples from the 1950's.
Rendering from fashion magazine L’Officiel De La Couleur Des Industries De La Mode 1952-No. 69.
1953 Evening Dress by Jacque Fath (left). 1954 Kem-Glo by Sherwin Williams paint samples (right). Images courtesy of FIT and Retro Renovation.
Rendering from fashion magazine L’Officiel De La Couleur Des Industries De La Mode 1952-No. 68 (left). 1954 Kem-Glo by Sherwin Williams paint samples (right).
Rendering from fashion magazine L’Officiel De La Couleur Des Industries De La Mode 1952 (left). WilsonArt 1950's laminate samples (right).
Historic 1950's house colors. Image courtesy of www.historichousecolors.com
1953 Ford car colors. Photo courtesy of www.oldclassiccar.co.uk.
What do you notice? Do the navy, burgundy and forest green colors surprise you? Are you impressed that taupe and umber have been consistently used for so long.
Pay attention to the combination of brights and darks. The expected lighter shades are often paired with darker colors for dramatic contrast. For example: a butter yellow house with forest green shutters or baby blue dress with a burgundy bow.
History is an incredible source of inspiration. Here we would like to suggest some resources that you could explore further:
The Museum and Library at FIT
The Library of Congress