Vintage (design)

Vintage design refers to an item of another era that often of important, and recognizable value.[1] This style of design can be applied categories such as vintage, interior design,and decor. Vintages design has sparked popularity in the contemporary world. It can also be narrowed down into subcategories. Categories of vintage design include Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Badges, Letterpress, Mid-century Modern, Punk, Steampunk, Atomic Age, Swiss Style, and Vaporware.[2]Vintage design has risen in popularity, and price as of recent years. Outlets of vintage design have also shifted from thrift store, to shabby chic stores.[3]


There is debate over what determines an item as vintage. Some rely on the definition by anything old and of value as vintage. Others create a more limited bracket dictating only objects old enough to have been “used”, but not more than two generations old.[4]

The terms vintage, retro, and antique are oftentimes used interchangeably and have some overlay, however the words possess different definitions. As for the definitions retro refers to styles of a previous era, vintage refers to an older object contains important value, and lastly antique refers an item of the previous era or at least 100 years old (depending on the source).[5][1][6]A related term is antiquity, which indicates something of past eras, or simply put ancient.[7]

Sectores of Vintage Design

Vintage design contains various subcategories.[2]

===Art Deco===

Art Deco was created in the hopes of looking modern, and man made for the decades of the 1920s and 30s when it was popular. This style features mostly geometric shapes, syethical patterns, and idealized human figures.[2]

===Art Nouveau===

Art Nouveau is a style containing curved lines, flowers, and other plants, contrasting colors, ornat colors, young women and intricate details. It was created at the end of the 1800s and gained popularity at the start of the 1910s.[2]

===Vintage Badges===

Badges callback to the late 19th and early 20th century with fonts, and images that represent ink stamped onto paper.[2]


Letterpress is simple with limited colors and fonts. The style is similar to that of a printing press with indents in the paper or the resemblance of indents.[2]

===Mid Century Modern===

This design style makes use of straight, clear lines, curved objects, wood tones, thin supporting, and oversized objects. It is meant to call back to the mid 1900s. [2]


A counterculture style of the 70s which is reused today. It contains various harsh lines, clashing colors, juxtaposition, and other images to create an off kilter picture. [2]


A mash of Victorian technology and futuristic images to create a steam power ascetic.[2]

===Atomic Age===

As reported, the Atomic Age creates an idea of a “optimistic, modern world based on a 1950s and 1960s vision of space exploration” through its application (Kramer 20). [2]

===Swiss Style===

Swiss Style (International Typographic Style) contains blood block letters in contrast with a solid background to create a 3D effect. [2]


The design style couples imagery of the 1980s and 90s with soft pastels to create a picture reminded of what  ‘‘one might see in a video game or a surrealist photograph”( Kramer 25).[2]


Vintage items spark interest in many. The United States Department of Labor tells us that, “Design and fashion trends play an important part in the production of furniture. The integrated design of the article for both esthetic and functional qualities is also a major part of the process of manufacturing furniture.[8]

The popularity of vintage design and vintage inspired item can be seen through media. In 2004 designer Nicolas Ghesquiere created a line for Balenciaga which called back to older collections. [9]Tom Ford's collection for her also uses references to the past. Vintage design can also be seen in ads which promote vintage inspired clothing.[9]

There are several reasons for vintage designs popularity. Some claim the phenomenon is due to the rarity and classic value of the items.[9] Others state the reason to be a result of nostalgia creating a positive emotional appeal for people toward a decade of their childhood, or other experience.[10]


  1. "Definition of VINTAGE". Retrieved 2019-12-04.
  2. "Vintage design: tips and inspiration to master the trend". 99designs. 2018-11-07. Retrieved 2019-12-04.
  3. Kasprzak, Emma (2012-04-17). "Vintage style: The rise of retro". Retrieved 2019-12-04.
  4. "Age Defining: Antique vs. Vintage vs. Retro". Apartment Therapy. Retrieved 2019-12-04.
  5. "Definition of RETRO". Retrieved 2019-12-04.
  6. "Definition of ANTIQUE". Retrieved 2019-12-04.
  7. "Definition of ANTIQUITY". Retrieved 2019-12-04.
  8. "Reusing Furniture". Joy's Used Furniture & Decor. 2019-07-17. Retrieved 2019-12-04.
  9. Larocca, Amy (July, 4 2001). "Tomorrow's vintage today: with designers reissuing house hits and unveiling future classics, now is the time to snap up an item you can wear right away and sell in the future". Gale one file. Retrieved December, 2 2019. Check date values in: |access-date=, |date= (help)
  10. "A Guide to Vintage Design Styles". Design & Illustration Envato Tuts+. Retrieved 2019-12-04.
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