Up until the 1960s, interiors were decorated with antiques. During the 1960s in London shops started selling pieces of second hand furniture. These shops were different from the previous antique shops because they sold daily life objects from the recent past. These objects used to be seen as junk: Victorian enamel signs, stuffed bears, old furniture painted with union jacks, bowler hats etc. A new way of producing and consuming the past emerged and a broader range of objects from the recent past was used for new designs.
Before the word ‘retro’ came into use in the 1970s, the practise of adopting old styles for new designs was already common. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, designers borrowed from the past, for example classicistic style.The difference is that since the 1960s people started to refer to the recent past.
In the 1980s design history emerged as a discipline and several histories of design were published. The access to these overviews and the ability to experiment with computer design programs has caused an increase of retro designed objects in the last decades.