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Retro futurism

June 17, 2009

While driving past a shopping centre on Dublin’s periphery some time ago, I came across a building. ‘That’s pretty cool’, I thought to myself. It looked like a retro futuristic design. You’ve probably seen them at some time- the fine people of 1950s America imagined the world of the future to be completely different to the world they lived in. Here are some examples.


Retro futurism is also seen in a more modern version through movies like Bladerunner and elements of ‘Raygun gothic’ are seen in the Jetsons (remember the cartoon?)   If you look at them, though, one thing stands out- they all include elements that were present in the day. The future of the 50s have a 50s Chevy design and the 20s futura incorporates Art Deco motifs. Today, their future isn’t the way they expected it to be- and why not?

Here’s why: predicting the future pre-empts it. By the time the future ‘comes around’ the designs by then have become the designs of the past.  They’ll ‘have been done before’. It won’t be new and novel.  The only thing we can predict about the future, design-wise is that it won’t be what we expect.

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