No Skinny Dipping Sign
1990s American Signs
Vintage 1970s American Signs
Vintage 1970s American Signs
Vintage 1970s American Signs
1940s Naturalistic Figurative Paintings
Materials: plastic Furniture
Arguably the world’s most ubiquitous man-made material, plastic has impacted nearly every industry. In contemporary spaces, new and vintage plastic furniture is quite popular and its use pairs well with a range of design styles.
From the Italian lighting artisans at Fontana Arte to venturesome Scandinavian modernists such as Verner Panton, who created groundbreaking interiors as much as he did seating — see his revolutionary Panton chair — to contemporary multidisciplinary artists like Faye Toogood, furniture designers have been pushing the boundaries of plastic forever.
When The Graduate's Mr. McGuire proclaimed, “There’s a great future in plastics,” it was more than a laugh line. The iconic quote is an allusion both to society’s reliance on and its love affair with plastic. Before the material became an integral part of our lives — used in everything from clothing to storage to beauty and beyond — people relied on earthly elements for manufacturing, a process as time-consuming as it was costly.
Soon after American inventor John Wesley Hyatt created celluloid, which could mimic luxury products like tortoiseshell and ivory, production hit fever pitch, and the floodgates opened for others to explore plastic’s full potential. The material altered the history of design — mid-century modern legends Charles and Ray Eames, Joe Colombo and Eero Saarinen regularly experimented with plastics in the development of tables and chairs, and today plastic furnishings and decorative objects are seen as often indoors as they are outside.
Finding the Right signs for You
Vintage and antique signs are popular collector’s items loved not only for the charm and pops of color they add to a space but also for the unique story each one has to tell. An interesting sign can help set the mood for a room and spark dozens of lively conversations.
Before and during the 18th century, many European peasants and colonists in the Americas couldn’t read, so shopkeepers, in an effort to promote their goods and services, hung trade signs with limited amounts of text.
Indeed, symbols and representational physical objects comprised early-day advertising efforts. In lieu of painted words on a wooden board, trade signs made use of handmade three-dimensional symbols to indicate the function of the shop. The iconic red, white and blue pole could be found outside barbershops, while a figural trade sign mounted to an apothecary’s storefront might be a mortar and pestle sculpted from bronze in order to indicate to passers-by that inside there were apothecary cabinets full of remedies for common ailments and a druggist to carefully dispense them.
As literacy rates improved, signs evolved into rectangular, round or square shapes that featured text. Short and sweet, early iterations were characterized by a mere few words, such as “tavern,” “boarding room” or “apothecary.”
During the 19th century, proprietors endeavored to render their signs more appealing. This meant the introduction of more color, font types and other pictorial representations. After the Civil War ended, logos, branding and advertising became increasingly more important, and the design of signage evolved. Trade signs were still in use during the 20th century, and you will likely find hand-painted tin eyeglasses for an optometrist’s office or an oversize bowling pin that likely had a home in the front window of a bowling alley.
Today, collectors and art aficionados alike collect and display antique and vintage signs. Old signs hearken back to a long-gone era, infusing any interior with warmth and nostalgia.
A vintage sign can help anchor a room — think of decorating with signs as you would arranging any kind of wall art. A large-scale sign in particular can prove a distinguishing feature in a living room or dining room, a focal point so prominent that it might lessen the burden of introducing any additional decorative elements to this particular space. Smaller signs work wonders too — pepper sparsely decorated corners with small colorful signs or add a humorous or graphic element to your gallery-style hang with a small text-based sign or two.
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