“I love anything to do with the 80s and I also love interior design. I started looking online at retro interiors, then I zoned in on the 80s and it brought me back to my childhood,” says London-based retail manager Simon Knight of his throwback Instagram account, @the_80s_interior. Starting the account as a way to explore his personal fascination with the interior aesthetics of the era, Knight’s locations range from shopping centres, restaurants and offices in the same vein as those he visited during his youth, to futuristic bedrooms, plant-peppered studio spaces, and kaleidoscopic tiled bathrooms. The criteria is simple – “an 80s interior, so long as it has no humans in it” – and each is accompanied by a humorous caption, often poking fun at the era’s excessive approach to interior design. “Most are just found,” says Knight of the images. “Sometimes I find it hard to find out where some are from or who the designer is, but I often get contacted with the answers which is nice.”
Describing his account as “nostalgic, neon, inspiring design with no boundaries”, the images that play out on Knight’s feed encapsulate the greed, decadence and lavishness of the era. “It was the time of money and people just did what they wanted – I think that also transferred into interior design. It’s just so over the top and wild.” When it comes to the details that Knight finds himself drawn to, it’s the textures, colours and lights: “80s interior design was either dusky tones with soft edges and lighting, or it was angular and bold with neons. I love both equally,” he notes.
Knight’s most-loved room is the bathroom, “especially if there is a carpeted step up sunken bath with a palm in the corner. Most rooms of the 80s had some sort of fern or palm plant in them!” Plants aside, there are other design traits common to the striking interiors that Knight features – the vertical blinds, panelled wood, glass bricks, Memphis graphics, mirrored rooms, shag pile carpets and pink tiles or cabinets.
Meanwhile, the home accessories and furnishings – portable TVs, hi-fi systems, turntables, graphic (or banana print) bedspreads, fish tanks and keep-fit-at-home bikes – recall the nostalgic magic of an era in which each of these artefacts was simultaneously considered alien and revolutionary. Aside from celebrating the strong designs of the time – in particular those of Sir Terence Conran – via his curated edit, Knight also seeks to highlight the styles that have weaved their way back into our consciousness, from the velveteen sofas in pastel shades, to that ubiquitous shade of pink.
The most surprising thing Knight has learnt via his account? How big the 80s community is on Instagram. This Friday, start with @the_80s_interior, then hit follow on @nostalgia.junkie, Knight’s top pick.