A survey of interior decoration in 1955 showed great variety and individuality but few clear-cut trends. There was more design to fit specific situations and less widespread imitation of successful experiments.
It was a colorful year, highlighted by the final and sweeping victory of color in the appliance field, but no particular colors or combinations emerged as favorites comparable with the chartreuse, green and yellow, the charcoal and pink or the pumpkin and turquoise of recent years. Combinations of the neutral earth tones remained popular, but so did monochromatic pastels, especially pink, as well as the basic white scheme sparked with such vivid and dissonant combinations as peacock blue, magenta and orange. Shades of purple, from heliotrope to the deep tones, were used to some extent but probably reflected the availability of a more complete color range in almost every type of product rather than a true trend.
Interior decorating reflected many changes in architectural practices in 1955. In both homes and commercial buildings, air conditioning made the use of light colors and delicate fabrics more practical and more popular, and the choice between "warm" and "cool" colors a matter of preference rather than necessity. On the other hand, the ever-increasing size of glass areas in all types of new construction produced new types of window treatments to provide positive and flexible control of sunlight and sun heat.
Furniture in 1955 took a new approach toward greater interchangeability and flexibility of use. Small armless chairs appeared which could be lined up to give the appearance of a single long bench. Storage pieces were made in modular dimensions and finished on all sides, to be placed side by side, stacked on top of one another or projected into the room to serve as a room divider. Chests were designed for bedroom, living or dining room use, and many had interchangeable interior features for various types of storage. Small tables were equally suitable for use beside a bed or a living room chair.
In traditional furniture styles, Italian Provincial showed a sudden surge of popularity. The work and influence of Scandinavian and Italian designers were still much in evidence, as were Oriental influences, both Japanese and Chinese. The continuing trend toward scaled down and simplified period ornamentation in traditional styles, on the one hand, and toward softer, warmer, discreetly ornamented modern styles, on the other, resulted in many collections intermediate in feeling. There was great diversity between the products of individual designers rather than any general style. The main points in common were a general adherence to traditional proportions for each piece; upholstered pieces were less severely tailored and chair backs were somewhat higher than in most modern styles; wood members were subtly shaped rather than sharply sculptured.
Walnut and mahogany continued as the most-favored woods, but there was much use of birch, maple, pecan, beech, cherry, white walnut and elm, some quantities of teak and pine, and limited amounts of rosewood, ebony and other exotic woods. Dull, open-pore finishes, permitting the grain to show through, were almost universal. There was minor use of oil-stain and lacquer finishes but virtually no high-gloss of any type. Brown wood tones from amber to dark walnut were far and away the favorites for almost every variety of wood, though gray finishes began to show up strongly toward the end of the year.
Furniture generally showed free use of contrasting materials like cane, straw cloth, metals, leather, stone, shell and many types of plastic. Vividly colored plastics were frequently coin bined with wood, and some new, more textural plastics were introduced.
The major emphasis in floor coverings was on more and brighter colors and on area and accent rugs. Random, nubby textures were in high favor. There was considerably more use of nylon, even in modestly priced carpeting, along with rayon viscose and wool. Cotton rug manufacturers were also using nylon and rayon, and their products showed much more use of pattern. Hard-surface coverings displayed more vivid and extensive color ranges, but few innovations in pattern.
Drapery fabrics emphasized sheers and many types of tea. tured casement cloths, especially in the moderately priced brackets. Printed Fiberglas, in many weights, came into more extensive use. Upholstery fabrics tended toward smoother, less heavily textured surfaces, slight and restrained use of metallic yarns and considerably more use of nylon. Most important, probably, was the introduction of new processes to make many kinds of fabrics resistant to soil- and water-spotting.
In wall coverings, large but widely spaced patterns were most popular, and there was much interest in sectional scenics. Red and simulated textures, grass cloth, wheat straw, brick, stone and wood, reached new peaks, but a slight decline was perceptible. There was somewhat more use of highly formal and elegant materials like flocked designs, moires and damasks, the silky-textured okami wood. Matching papers and fabrics oven moving away from small, all-over designs toward larger and freer patterns.
In lighting fixtures, whether for wall, ceiling, floor or table, adjustability to various positions through the use of pulleys. slides, pivots and universal joints seemed to be of prime importance. There was, however, a revival of interest in ceiling fixtures, especially the many-branched, pierced-brass variety. Lamps generally seemed to be returning to smooth surfaces and classic shapes.