The year 1952 saw contemporary design established as the style leader in the home furnishing field in the United States, and there was evidence of a strong trend toward correlation.
The architectural influence dominated the contemporary collections with its "floating" or "off-the-floor" effect, especially in case goods pieces such as chests of drawers, dressers, serving boards, etc. Significant, too, was the sculptured, uncluttered look which gave a clean-cut architectural feeling. In upholstered pieces, the lighter, open look and the wide use of foam upholstery gave the pieces a smooth, clean appearance.
Following the trend to informal, open-type architecture, were more multiple-purpose pieces flexible enough to be in various rooms. Outstanding among these were the room viders, which included chests, bookcases and desk-chests. These being finished on all sides, could be placed anywhere in room to create areas for living-dining, recreation, study, etc.
Adding a great deal of decorative interest to the new was the combination of wood with such materials as black or wrought iron, woven cane and sisal, leather, glass and decorative tiles. Legs of metal in brass, chrome and black were on many of the upholstered pieces, while black was used sively for the bases of dining, occasional and cocktail
There was a return to the natural wood finishes, more it. than the bleached finishes but not as dark as the stains generally used for traditional furniture. Dark woods such as cherry. and walnut, sometimes combined with light woods, gained popularity.
Although the 20th-Century designs led the home fashion French Provincial, Early American, 18th-Century English, Empire and Directoire were still in demand. Many of these s tyles were simplified by the omission of elaborate carvings and made smaller to fit in with the trend toward smaller room dimensions, and drawers and storage compartments were added.
In upholstery and drapery fabrics, nylon made great in the popular-priced brackets with nylon jacquard friezes in demand by the commercial furniture manufacturers. In upper price range, wool tweeds and metallics were popular, imported linens in Modern and Provincial patterns highly favoured. New developments in sheer curtains appeared many of the sheers made of Orlon, nylon, rayon, cotton linen in interesting textured weaves and handsome printed tifs. Many of these fabrics were designed to provide some degree of privacy while allowing light to enter the room.
In colours, dark green, red-beige and gray led the moderate- priced lines, while persimmon, lime, toast, kelly green, kin, gold and cinnamon were the leaders in the higher lines. Raspberry, black and white continued to be in demand, particularly in tweeds and dramatic prints.
With a 30% to 35% decrease in the price of wool carpeting during the year, 1952 saw a shift from the cottons and synthetics to the all-wools or wools combined with synthetic fibres The newest offerings were characterized by fresh, clear and simplicity of design which depended upon the weave or combinations of fibres for decorative interest, rather than the floral or geometric patterns of the past. Wool twists appeared in smart, decorative colours to harmonize with colour trends in upholstery and drapery fabrics. These colours included avocado and moss greens, turquoise and aqua plum, beige, gray and the earth tones.
Most important in the all-synthetic carpetings was the dimensional effect achieved by the shading of self-colours. Novelty textures, casual designs and tweedy designs were duced for the first time in the all-rayon or synthetic-fibre coverings. For the first time in almost a decade, the consumer, was offered floor coverings of quality that were style-right price-right.
The year disclosed the gradual return to the use of wallpaper in place of painted walls. Hand-screened papers in small abstract patterns (often correlated with matching drapery upholstery fabrics) and scenic designs were brought down to the price level of the average homeowner. Modern techniques also improved the machine prints with the result that drawings and tones of colour retained their original sharpness. papers were improved with plastic finishes so that they were washable and longer wearing.
Simultaneously with the trend back to wallpapers, paint manufacturers announced several improvements in interior paints. most important characteristics of these new paints was the application by the layman with brush, roller or sprayer, the ability of the painted surface to withstand repeated scrubbings. Lipstick, nail polish and grease stains were easily removed from these painted surfaces with soap and water.
Radical design changes appeared in the lamp lines during 1952. Bases of black metal or polished brass in low, slender, variations were combined with shades of woven reed, 1-colour linen, perforated copper and brass. There was a noticeable trend toward pin-up lamps which could be raised or lowered by means of a counterweight pulley, and which extended from the wall by a telescoping stem. A revival of ceiling lighting was also noted in the growing popularity of simple, contemporary fixtures made of brass or copper and operated on a pulley.
Serving accessories reflected the trend to easy, casual entertaining with folding, individual snack tables, sectionalized serving plates, lazy-susan trays and tables and stainless-steel flatware.
The basic principles of contemporary house design were set-the standard for all the important furniture design plans, low ceilings, combination rooms, easy-to-maintain, extensive use of glass walls; the relationship between indoor and outdoor areas; simplicity; beauty through use of natural materials rather than surface ornamentation. These were factors which dictated the significant changes in furnishings, bringing about the so-called modern effect and influencing even the traditional lines.