The Colour Collaborative: August

Source: James Vaughan

 Vintage 50's...

When I think of the fifties, I think of domestic goddesses at work like in the picture above, I think of rock and roll, diners and poodle skirts, neck scarfs tied on the side, bowling shoes and pony tails.  I think of Grease, leather jackets, quiffed hair and pink CadillacsTwin sets and pearls, Marilyn Monroe, glorious TechnicolorWhite Christmas and Bing Crosby.  When I think of the 50's, I think of America.

And when I think of the colours of the 50's I think of cherry reds, dark jades, pale teals and duck egg blues, of rich candy pink and bright aqua, of lemon yellow, atomic grey tones and the solid red, black, white and shiny silver of diners.  The fabulous fifties have inspired me before and the blanket that was the result is one of my absolute favourites.  The colour combinations in it are gorgeous to me.

So I was very happy to take another delve around the decade and see what colours it would throw up.

First stop is that perfect house wife image portrayed in a million different adverts.  The immaculate coffered hair, the pristine pressed piny and the dinner waiting on the table.  The adverts seem simple and direct, the colours eye-catching and strong.  I particularly love the colours in this advert for Crown wallpaper.  They make a pretty little palette.

Then of course, the classic American diner.

It's a style that screams 50's to me.  Along with those full skirted girls with pop-socks and a ribbon tied around their pony-tails.  The stark black and white, brought alive with a loud shouting red and all encased in a bright, shiny silver.  But you can also find evidence those candy sweet pinks and vibrant aqua blues that were also popular in this decade.  Again, lots of bright cheerful and optimistic colour.

Source (Clockwise from top left): Antonin RĂ©mond,Danielle Olson, Jenny Lee Silver, Rossie

The fifties was a time of the 'Atomic Age' and the spidery line and ball forms of molecular structures and Atomic Design were hugely influential in graphic prints and in the home.  I always think of iron filling greys and lemon yellows when I imagine that atomic look.  But primary colours were also used a lot in the molecular or 'cocktail cherry' designs.

I love the more muted palette these Sanderson wallpapers and fabric create though.

Source (Clockwise from top left):  'Mobiles', 'Seaweed', 'Perpetua',  'Festival', 'Fi-Fi' - All by Sanderson

As I said in the beginning, all of these references of mine are American.  Darling America seems to have dominated the decade completely.  In fact, I was hard pushed to think of a single British reference from that time.  After a little thought, I came up with Teddy Boys, but of course, they were massively associated with Rock 'n' Roll from where?  America, of course.

Here in Britain, we seemed to be pre-occupied with recovering from a World War, we were dark, dreary and grey.  Rationing was still in place at the beginning of the 50's, as my Dad has told me on more than one occasion.  The bright, brash, fun and exciting things happening across the wide ocean must have seemed like a whole other world, and a much better one.  No wonder we lapped it up with abandon.

I did think of one, very British event from fifties Britain though, the Festival of Britain.  Expressly designed with the idea of 'cheering up' the Great British public after the War, the Festival was supposed celebrate design, science and technology and generally promote the recovery of the country.

Whether or not that worked, I can't say but I can't help thinking that any Festival that could produce a booklet like this one below, can't have been a bad thing.

Source: Festival of Britain/shelfappeal

Don't forget to check out the other great 'Colour Collaborative' blogs
for more of today's posts about vintage colour...

What is The Colour Collaborative? 

All creative bloggers make stuff, gather stuff, shape stuff, and share stuff. Mostly they work on their own, but what happens when they work together? Is a creative collaboration greater than the sum of its parts? We think so and we hope you will too. We'll each be offering our own monthly take on a colour related theme, and hoping that in combination our ideas will encourage us, and perhaps you, to think about colour in new ways.

S x

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  1. Love the Sanderson wallpapers patterns and colour palette. I have just made 50's inspired fascinators see here

  2. I had been musing on color and the 50's (when I was a school girl) this week. The one color you did NOT see was purple. My mother would have been horrified if I had worn purple (now one of my faves); she insisted a lady would NEVER be seen in purple. That certainly makes the poem about "when I grow old I shall wear purple" even more headstrong. Well, I'm retired so I qualify for the purple brigade.

  3. Ah, the 50s colorschemes. I love the era. Mom's taking care of their families and doing it in style, dads working and coming home to dinner on the table. Respectful kids, helpful neighbors. Definately a time gone by. Thank you for inspiring me with the colors for my next crochet project.

  4. I just love that top picture, shirtwaist dresses and aprons -lovely. Loving all your colour palettes.

  5. I too always think of the USA when mentioning the 1950s. Great collection of colours and images. It was the age of plastic, Bakelite and Formica. New materials to make futuristic furnishings.

    As you said, here in the UK we were grey and drab, mainly due to the austerity measures. We also had the Suez crisis and riots in Notting Hill. However, by 1959 we had designed the Mini and Mary Quant and Vidal Sassoon were changing hair and fashion ready for the Swinging Sixties.

  6. Lovely post Sandra . I'm really interested in the 50s . But I also admire how in Britain in the 40s so many remained stylish despite everything, siren suits, camp coloured legs with drawn on seams, perky hats and red lipstick

  7. Gosh - I love them all! Maybe that's why I love this era, the colours are so lovely, vibrant and bold, yet they all mash together so well.

    Nina x

  8. I just love all these colour palettes! The pictures and photos are so fantastic, such a bold bright decade of style - yet when broken down into the painty brush-strokes they are all quite fresh, and I can picture all of the colour schemes in crochet blankets, accessories, quilts...what fun, thanks for the inspiration! Chrissie x

  9. Oh, the pretty 50's colors! Love all the graphics!! Such inspiration! Have a lovely and crafty day! xo Heather

  10. Hi Sandra, just stopping by to say how delightful your blog is. Thanks so much for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris

  11. Gorgeous colour palettes! And that Crown Wallpaper poster is such fun, but it's the 'Atomic' designs that I really love.

    Fabulous post Sandra - it's like a mini 101 in 50's interior design! - but I need to know more about that Patons and Baldwin Festival knitting booklet, it's not one I've come across before.

  12. Great piece I very much enjoyed your post thank you. Colours are inspirational and good enough to eat yumyum, Thanks! Lisa xx

  13. GREAT post today! I loved reading every word and seeing all the photos. I, too, am a fan of the 50's. The simple, happy, carefree life. The USA was indeed booming after the war. The colors were lovely then and still lovely today. Have a great weekend.



  14. Great post! I hadn't realised how strong is the influence of the 50s palette today - and what a cheerful palette it is. Much nicer than the 70s which were all about harvest gold and rusty orange and avocado green (ugh). Owls and mushrooms were pretty hot then too - I have been expecting mushrooms to come back in now that the owls have had a good long run.

    P.S. All the best diners had banquettes upholstered in SPARKLY vinyl. More of the Atomic Age influence I suppose. :)

  15. Thanks so much Annie! Yes, those Atomic designs are gorgeous. I came across a lovely pink one with greys, black and gold that I loved too.
    As to the FOB booklet, I'm afraid I don't have a lot to report. The most information I found was in this post which you no doubt found for yourself through the source link in my post. That focuses mostly on the booklet design, rather than the contents... although it does say, 'the patterns are disappointingly prosaic but have great titles like ‘Heart of the Empire twin set’ and ‘Shades of Beau Nash matching waistcoats’..'!
    It's be interesting to see in the flesh, that's for sure!

    S x

  16. I'm pinning this because of the wonderful color palettes you've put together. Thanks for a lovely post!

  17. I am struck by how familiar some of those 50's palettes also feel - think Ms Kidson might have something to do with it...

  18. Oh Sandra, what a fantastic post! I like the way you write about colour and the way you deconstructed each image to pull out the individual colours. Yes, when I think of the colours of the fifties my points of reference are also American. I am most drawn to the gloomiest colour combos though, the greys, pale blues, taupes and yellows in those atomic geographic style prints. Gorgeous. x

  19. And by the way your fifties inspired ripple is seriously lovely. I've never made a ripple before but when I think of one I think of irregular stripes of greys. browns, pinks and creams...basically Missoni! x