17.–23.01.2022 #immcologne

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From chrome to plastic

’90s furniture and materials are back on trend

Whether it’s music, fashion or make-up, the ’90s are back! And the interior design sector is no exception. Vintage furniture, stylish lava lamps and comfy beanbags from the ’90s are experiencing a real comeback and selling in increasing numbers. Also in demand are new furniture and designs in the ’90s style. We give an insight into the background of this trend, introduce famous pieces of furniture from the ’90s, and reveal the colours, designs and materials from the era that are now back on trend.

90s furniture "Orange-Beast" from Sixinch

In the style of typical ’90s furniture, the Orange Beast sofa from Sixinch is bright orange and has an extremely futuristic design. (Photo: Sixinch)

The ’90s style: what’s behind it?

The decade doesn’t seem all that long ago, but more than 30 years have passed between 1990 and now. The era was strongly shaped by the end of the Cold War and the reunification of Germany. A new lifestyle was born, manifesting itself at raves and parties in bright colours, ecstatic techno music and a love of experimenting. It was the era of plastic, new technology and pragmatism.

The general sense of euphoria influenced the interior design sector too – futuristic furniture and accessories, garish colours, man-made materials and light installations replaced the solid wood furniture and dark wallpaper of earlier periods. A literally shining example of ’90s style is the Juicy Salif citrus squeezer by Philippe Starck for Alessi. With the potential to pass for a creature from a strange planet, it is a true classic – like many other ’90s pieces of furniture and accessories.

Vintage furniture from the ’90s

Philippe Starck, Achille Castiglioni, Werner Aisslinger, Ron Arad, the Campana brothers – numerous designers shaped the style of the 1990s. Not only are their designs a testament to the era, they are also highly sought after. On online selling platforms and in auction houses, prototypes and limited editions of vintage furniture sell for lofty amounts – among them examples such as the Gluon lounger designed by Marc Newson for Moroso and the Power Play chair by Frank Gehry for Knoll International.

Other pieces of ’90s furniture continue to be produced to this day. The Endless Shelf , for example, was designed in 1994 by Studio Aisslinger for Porro. It can be found both as an exhibition piece in Munich Museum’s Die Neue Sammlung, and for sale online. The square-shaped shelf can be extended as required, and the structure is made from cool aluminium, while the wall panels come in a choice of colourful, transparent plastic or MDF boards. The Panton Chair from Vitra is another true classic that is still highly sought after. It was designed at the end of the ’50s, but only achieved commercial success in the ’90s, with the development of shatterproof polyurethane foam and new injection moulding processes.

"Funky 3-seater" from Poufomania in 90s style

The beanbags from Poufomania’s Funky series – a major ’90s trend – can be combined quickly and easily to create comfortable configurations, such as the Funky 3-seater. (Photo: Poufomania)

Popular furniture designs and materials

Not only are original examples sought after, ’90s furniture is being reinterpreted as well. The beanbag, for example, was typical of the era. Now it is experiencing a revival, and even being taken one step further, with the Funky Ecke from Poufomani a. Practical zip fastenings allow several of these beanbags to be turned into a comfy three-seater sofa . Or what about a bean bag lounger for the balcony or garden? Four-poster beds, wicker furniture , folding screens and lava lamps are also on the increase.

And it’s not just furniture itself – materials from the ’90s are becoming fashionable again too. Chrome and chrome-plated steel are being used increasingly, including in the Elbow table set from caussa , the coffee tables from Metal4Design and the Charles coffee table from B&B Italia . Transparent or coloured plastic is experiencing a comeback, as seen in the Nicole PC chair and the Hotel table from 3G Resins. Crushed velvet in a velour look, denim and leather for seating are also back in demand. The Campus chaise longue from ipdesign, for example, is a lovely combination of black leather, chrome-plated frame and ’90s design.

Chaise lounge "Campus" from ipdesign in leather and chrome

The Campus chaise longue from ipdesign, made of premium leather surrounded by a chrome-plated frame, fully embraces the style of ’90s furniture. (Photo: ipdesign)

’90s furniture: garish and futuristic

Orange, yellow, blue, pink and, best of all, neon – the ’90s were garish and loud. Today, designers are acknowledging colour once again. The ANDES sofa from Wittmann , for example, glows in warm shades of red and pink. The coffee table from TIPTOE , made from recycled plastic with a terrazzo design gleams in ocean blue. The SEAM TWO lamp from e15 Design, in signal white, sulphur yellow or neon yellow, emits cheerful, colourful light. And the orange-coloured, sculptural KAST EEN shelf brings order where it is needed.

The Orange Beast from Sixinch is as colourful as it is futuristic. The design is more reminiscent of tank treads than a traditional sofa. As seen in the juice press by Philippe Starck, futuristic forms were typical of the 1990s and they have become popular again today too. The high-tech Alfa desk from Codutti Furniture , for example, could just as easily come from the set of a science fiction film.

Brightly colored "ANDES" sofa from Wittmann in 90s style

The bright-coloured ANDES sofa from Wittmann glows in warm shades of red and pink in true ’90s style. (Photo: Wittmann)

Where the ’90s trend is heading

Futuristic designs, bright colours and gleaming chrome – the style of the ’90s inspires optimism and euphoria, as well as pragmatism and technological progress. No wonder that ’90s designs are gaining popularity again. After all, with the many challenges currently facing us, our society finds itself on the brink of something completely new. Diversity, digitalisation, climate change and, last but not least, the pandemic are changing our needs permanently and demanding new, pragmatic solutions. One of which is furniture produced by a 3D printer !