Novecento Collection: The Urban-Chic Styles of 1950s Milan

It’s our most cosmopolitan collection yet.

Inspired by the ultra-chic furniture of 1950s Milan, Italy, each piece in our Novecento Collection is a celebration of rich jewel tones, sleek silhouettes and sophisticated styles. It was an era dominated by design: wartime deprivation had given way to a postwar boom that found manufacturers like Fiat, Vespa , and Alfa Romeo, not to mention the myriad fashion houses, creating what we now call classics that would carry over to consumer products that ranged from furniture and appliances to cultural touchstones like architecture and engineering.

This economic prosperity appealed to a generation of young people who would see, for the first time, an aspirational–and attainable–urbane lifestyle depicted on their television screens. Young people moved to the Milan, known as “The Capital of the Miracle,” in search of a more varied, affluent and exciting life that the often isolated existence of the countryside. And as they succeeded, they filled their flats with the textures, colors and shapes you’ll find in our Novecento Collections.

Moody Hues

The color palette of the time was deep and complex, a reflection of accessibility to new dyes as well as a desire to create interior spaces that felt opulent and welcoming. Jewel tones shimmer on plush fabrics; rich leathers imparted a look of affluence. Gold, marble and black were accents that tied the look together.

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Floor Amore

Our Novecento Rugs are like a time capsule. Watercolor patterns that look freshly brushed in contrasting pigments are a signifier of the dominant look in 1950s Italy. Unlike the American color palette that was dominated by sunny mints, yellows and peach, the colors found in Milan were more representative of a serious outlook, and a desire to feel prosperous.

Happy Hour

With their newfound prosperity and jobs that allowed time off in the evenings, young Italians entertained each other at home with cocktails. Grappa, wine, limoncello, martinis and negronis were the draw, and helpful hosts served them from well-stocked, handy bar carts just like ours. (And they tucked them out of sight when the party ended.)

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Primo Patterns

Free-flowing abstract patterns were prevalent in fabrics, paintings and an array of other decor. Artists were experimenting with form, and an eager art-loving public responded positively to these more expressive styles. Like the young people of 1950s Milan, we fell in love with these dramatic patterns, and you’ll see the looks reproduced on a variety of finds in our Novecento Collection.

Italian Dining Styles

In a culture where food is the star, dining collections were thoughtfully crafted to provide minimal visual impression to keep the spotlight on entertaining. The lines are narrow and spare, yet the pieces are not without luxury. Leather, marble and gold are prominent, but the styles are utterly understated.

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3 Comments

  • Cynda

    Love this look! How exciting. I feel a trip to World Market coming on in the very near future!

  • Mitzi Player

    Love the pillows, rugs and velvet couches … the color and the textures
    I Understand the blog you’ve written, about the richness of the era and the desire to feel prosperous with deep Rich fabrics and colors.
    However on that same vein it seems that much of the furniture from the era (wood pieces) were a mix of darker richer woods and pieces that look estate worthy. Not the minimalist, almost plasticly looking pieces of the late 60’s early 70’s (table and chairs) that look more like a boho loft rather than the rich Milan flavor you’re trying to portray

  • Aprile

    Where are these pieces made? Do you have any sustainably sourced/constructed pieces?

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