This Once-Popular 80s Design Trend Is Making Its Way Back Into Homes In 2024

1980s design trends bring to mind certain definable elements, including bold use of color, lots of chrome, and daringly abstract patterns. Geometric shapes played a very popular role, bedecking everything from wallpaper designs to upholstery, combined with geometrically-inspired art or accent pieces and sculptural furniture shapes. As decades-old trends cycle back around every few decades, this emphasis on geometric shapes is creeping back into contemporary interiors. Part nostalgia, partly a reaction to the minimalistic and neutral-toned rooms of the past two decades,  bold geometrics are cropping up everywhere.

While sometimes these trends manifest in typically expected and traditional geometric shapes like triangles, squares, and hexagons, they also include more organic shapes, squiggles, zig-zags, and non-traditional patterns inspired by geometry, usually repeated or mixed with other patterns in unusual and surprising ways. The color palette ranges from soft pastels to bold primary colors, but also occasionally includes neon and/or black-and-white simplicity. 

1980s geometric design

The popularity of geometric patterns and shapes as a key design element was popularized by the Memphis Group, an Italian art and design movement founded by a group of Italian designers and artists led by Milan's Ettore Sottsass. Rooted in being fun and ostentatious, the Memphis Design Group was partly a reaction to Mies Van Der Roes' severe simplicity of shape and color that dominated the latter half of the 20th century. Memphis interiors reveled in bright colors and unusual geometric-inspired shapes, as well as oversized accent pieces like giant phones and unique abstract cultures. 

While most homes use these elements much less audaciously than Memphis school designers, the lines of their geometry slowly crept their way into American homes and throughout the culture at large, where you would find their influence in colorful, geometric home accents and the recurrence of patterns like squiggles, boomerangs, and lightning bolts, as well as furniture inspired by organic bubble shapes and bright colors in neon or primary shades. Checkerboards, grids, and stripes were also popular.

Getting this 80s-inspired look

If you are looking to bring a dose of this bold trend into your home, but aren't quite sure where to start, a great place is amending your current interior to include some of its elements. If you have a neutral-driven contemporary or more minimalistic space, consider adding subtle geometric patterns, either in neutrals, basics like black and white, or as a bold splash of unusual colors like magenta or teal. You can also blend more subdued colors with bold geometry.

For a bigger change,  opt for oversize prints, patterns, and decorative objects, as well as chunky furniture inspired by geometric and organic shapes. This 1980s style prioritizes colors like red, teal, magenta, and yellow, mixed usually with contemporary furniture pieces in materials like glass, lucite, chrome, and black lacquered wood. It's a look that complements modern and contemporary spaces but also looks great mixed into other kinds of decor aesthetics like boho or vintage-inspired interiors, particularly when mixed among older and more soft-lined furniture and accents.