The LeisureWave Aesthetic

The LeisureWave Aesthetic

Did you ever find yourself staring at a photo of a restaurant from the seventies and getting lost in the dark wood and gold lighting? Can you hear the whisper of people’s voices and a distant piano in the distance playing softly? Can you feel the dim radiant glow of golden light?

If so, you might be a person who appreciates the design aesthetics that was last prevalent in the late seventies into the early eighties. It was sadly washed away in the modern color-soaked new wave influence that gobbled up the majority of the eighties and has yet to make a comeback.

Last night, I was on Twitter, chatting with and admiring the work of Progress City U.S.A. While checking out some photos they posted about Disney boat cruises from the early days of Walt Disney World, I was struck with how little effort has gone into reviving the aesthetic of that era.

We have seen a modern take on the eighties surface in the Vaporwave movement, but not a push towards an earlier time that offered its own unique design offerings? So I posted this tweet with an image from Progress City USA.

When I asked for a suggestion on what to name this style, Progress City USA responded almost immediately. So this aesthetic has been christened LeisureWave. And I love it! I want it to influence art, fashion, architecture and start a new music movement.

Once you start looking for it, you will see it everywhere during its original era. For instance, bars and restaurants that were dark and whisper-quiet even when full, unlike the vibrating sound boxes we are forced to eat in nowadays.

It also dominated the malls that we see and read about in flashback TV and movies.

I want to see people posting #LeisureWave influenced modern furnishings on Instagram and browse a soft relaxing burgeoning music scene on Soundcloud.

I know that this might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is certainly mine and I don’t think I am alone. So if you are on social media, please share your LeasureWave finds and creations, and let the world know what you see when you close your eyes and dream about the past.

This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. You’re not alone. I too often lament this design aesthetic. The only place I ever do anything with it though is with themes on my phone or customizable video game character. I try to use the “Burger King” colors: brown, yellow, orange and a splash of green when I can.

    Every once in a great while I’ll come across an old Pizza Hut restaurant that still has a wood paneled dining room and the old overhead lamps. I’ll eat in a place like that when ever I can because it is comforting, they serve Mt Dew, and their pizza is still good. They next time I’m in one I’ll send you a pic.

    1. Retroist

      Old BKs and Pizza Huts are very much the type of place I picture in my head. Probably because those are the type of places I like to go when I go out to eat.

  2. Ken

    It definitely takes me back to my happy place. I told my wife that one of these days I’ll turn my office into a classic late 70s early 80s design motif. She doesn’t appreciate the design style like I do, so I don’t get much encouragement. Some day though, it’ll happen.

    1. Retroist

      I support your right to make yourself an amazing throwback space.

  3. Jedediah Smith

    Yes! This nails it. Incandescent lights instead of fluorescent. Carpeting instead of acid-washed concrete. Drapes and padded upholstery instead of chrome and mirrors. You find this aesthetic in old malls and in office buildings too, where now the open-office model destroys individual space and productivity. It’s hard not to make the jump from the shrill, echoey, divisive public spaces to a similar culture that now inhabits them. Conversely, people’s clothing has gone from the wider color and pattern range of the seventies to the monochromatic blacks and greys of the present. We’ve created a world that exposes us and shouts at us, so we are only willing to go out if we’re wearing camouflage.

    1. Retroist

      Wow Jebediah, that is very well put. My feelings exactly.

  4. bryang72

    I’d like to see console TV’s and turntable stereos make a comeback myself!

    1. Retroist

      I agree. I prefer the warm sounds of the older technology.

    1. Retroist

      Great suggestion Chris! Spent the evening with Muzak in my ears.

    2. Ever since I saw this reply I’ve been listening to Muzak at work (there is plenty in Google Play Music). It is very comforting and doesn’t distract. Thanks for sharing this!

  5. Don Gates

    That is the PERFECT description of this aesthetic. Whenever I see kids talking about the 80’s in terms of pink neon grids, fluorescent green palm trees, and Patrick Nagel people I just have to smile. The early 80’s was an extension of the late 70’s and it was human, warm and inviting, and not candy-colored cold. When I see pics like these, I’m taken back to such a happier, gentler time. The kids just don’t know.

    1. Retroist

      Thanks Don. I agree 100%! I like the mid-eighties just fine, but candy colored cold is a great way to put it. Its pretty but lacks the warmth. With all the throwbacks constantly bubbling up, why not LeisureWave?

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