Retro furniture

Furnishing is good, especially if you can express your creative energies in your own homes. Some choose from the selection of the Swedish store chain, others make their flats cosier by rethinking granny’s cupboard set. Many of you must remember the original shapes of retro furniture: besides sticky faux leather armchairs or varnished wardrobe sets, the legendary shell-shaped red armchair is still a designer item. For the interior decorators and designers of the 1970s and 1980s, filling the interior spaces of blocks of flats with new forms must have been a real challenge. However, the results speak for themselves. Réka cupboard set, Pillangó (Butterfly) sofa or the star of the ‘60s Erika chair are still living with us. This week, we invite you to a furniture expo with Sándor Bauer’s photos.

Furniture producing fever

126189.jpgDue to the flat and furniture misery after the WW II, factories focused on quantity first and not quality. Despite long waiting periods and good connections, even the lucky customers returned home with poor-quality products. Finally in 1963, the Budapest Furniture Industrial Company (BUBIV) was established by merging several furniture factories. Nevertheless, the opening of other factories like Agria, Balaton and Kanizsa also changed the circumstances significantly. Naturally, the fifteen-year-long housing development project, which started in 1961, was also necessary for that. The aim of furniture factories was to satisfy domestic demands, and that of designers was to adapt to the size of blocks. You hardly know anything about designers of component furniture, washbasins built in cupboards, wardrobe sets and sofas, but you remember the Réka or Erika sets or the semi-colonial Verona or the Pillangó sofa. Future customers could feel the changes of the ‘70s not only in the operation of factories.

Where you can buy it: Domus

126194.jpgBut let’s not run ahead so much. The thematic fairs that are extremely fashionable nowadays as well started to reach everyday routine again that time, while in the 1950s, fairs were not considered important, and thus they were forgotten slowly. The furniture expo ‘Otthon’ (Home) was realized by BNV (Budapest International Fair) in the City Park of Budapest. KERMI (Commercial Quality Control Institute) controlled quality after a designer’s application and if they found a product eligible, it could participate in the fair and could be sold in shops. Besides furniture, there were carpets, toys and other decorations on the expo. You can admire televisions, radios and the typical ornaments of the period as well.

kistelegdi_domus_02.jpgBútorért Vállalat (Company for Furniture) was the firm that established the foundations of the Hungarian furniture trading in stores. The story of Domus Store started with the one on Róber Károly Boulevard in 1974. They built a national chain with 16 other stores and Domus became the largest and best-known store chain in Hungary. Before the change of regime, the Hungarian furniture trade welded with the name Domus that was just as famous as Keravill, Skála or Centrum chains. After the change, the company became less and less profitable, which grew even worse owning to the rival Swedish chain and a diminishing furniture-buying enthusiasm. By the end of the 2000s, only the store in Budapest survived, but it was also closed down in 2011. Buying furniture seems to be just a child’s game nowadays, among the Lacks and Hemneses. However, I cannot answer one question: why were female names so over-represented among the products of socialist designers?

Translated by Zita Aknai




More thematic virtual exhibitions