Bird’s The Word

The resurgence in retro 50’s and 60’s design is in full force, thanks in part to AMC’s Mad Men TV show. Visit any home design store and notice the throng of mid-century modern furniture and accessories.  In particular, I’ve observed that retro-inspired birds have appeared on, well, everything!

Charley Harper “Bird Feeders” vintage print

Vintage image Bird Feeders by illustrator Charley Harper epitomizes the character of mid-century modern design, such as the use of flat color fields and strong graphic line treatment.  Similarly, the contemporary accessories Orange Bird on Cherry Blossom pillow by Joom, and Birds Indoor/Outdoor Rug by The Koko Company offer an evident nod to their historic ancestor with their use of blocky, high-contrast, colorful imagery.

IKEA’s Evalotta fabric and Bird Cushion 2 by The Painted Smock are reminiscent of the memorable animated lead-in to the early 70’s Partridge Family TV Show.

Curvilinear and delightfully shiny, the Red Bird Nest Hanging Clock by Joom and Bird Light by Ed Carpenter for Theo characterize the retro era’s explosive use of plastics to achieve sumptuous, rounded forms.

Perhaps bird imagery is so popular because of a heightened awareness of green design and a deeper appreciation for nature and the environment.  Maybe they’ve appeared to add a dose of whimsy and nostalgia for a by-gone era, evident in artgoodiesWood Thrush Tea Towel and Louise Body’s lovely Garden Birds wallpaper.  Whatever the reason, they make a cheerful, striking addition to any space.


  1. Amanda Heintz says:

    I love this trend in design. I have those C&B candle pots.

  2. Shital says:

    In traditional feng shui applications, birds are considered symbols of new opportunities. Birds can also symbolize love and commitment (as in the case of Mandarin Ducks), or abundance and good luck (as in the case of the Peacock). I remember visiting my Grandmother’s place as a child and she used to have these beautiful bird drawings on the walls and doors. The swing and chairs had bird figurines. Your post takes me back memory lane..

    • Karen Egly-Thompson says:

      Thanks, Shital. The feng shui symbolism adds another layer of meaning and richness to this conversation. I wish I could see your grandmother’s bird drawings…I bet they were beautiful. Thanks for your insightful comments!

  3. Pallavi says:

    Love the mood board – quiet apt for spring!

  4. Michelle Grant says:

    Charley Harper is amazing (and from Ohio!). We saw an exhibit in Cincinnati a few years ago. Even though I am afraid of real birds, I do enjoy the imagery and form of them. In fact, we have a tea towel out right now that has a sweet little bird on it. Nice to find your blog (through linkedin) and I am now bookmarking it!

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