What is the difference between vintage and retro ?

Vintage and retro … We often use these two terms that seem almost interchangeable. Are these synonymous, styles of decorations totally different or rather styles rather close to each other? What is certain is that making the difference between the two terms is not easy.

We told you about the great currents of French decoration, and more precisely the differences between “art deco” and “art nouveau”, we will see today the nuances between retro and vintage.

The difference between vintage and retro would be related to two periods

Indeed, by looking at the definition of terms, we realize that we can link each style of decoration to different periods.

The term vintage, to begin with, comes from the wine world. It is an English word from the word “vintage” in Old French, which means an excellent wine, especially in relation to an age or a vintage. In fact, we can consider vintage an object whose manufacture goes back a few years but which remains fashionable today. This covers a very broad period. Generally we consider that the vintage period is between the 30s and the 80s.

However, from this point of view, it can also refer to a period that corresponds to a few decades before the present time. In other words, it would be an evolutionary notion. For example the decorative objects produced in the year 2000 could be considered vintage today.

The retro would represent a period that covers the first half of the 20th century, especially the 20s and 30s.

You will have noticed, the two periods can overlap, which would mean that the two styles would be very pockets of each other, to see similar or maybe the difference between the two styles is on another ground.

Another difference between vintage and retro: authenticity or inspiration?

Another way of thinking vintage and retro would be to consider that the difference between the two is deeper than a mere period.

The vintage would refer to the objects of times. That is, the term would be related to the original materials, the method of manufacture, or even the year of manufacture. We can therefore qualify a vintage object if it is “authentic”. For example a reissue of a 50s furniture produced by the original brand with the method of the time or a real club armchair made in the 20s. The vintage would be a mark of authenticity.

On the other side, the retro would be the style that would use furniture and vintage decoration to recreate the atmosphere of what was done at the time, for example an authentic vintage fridge of the 50s. But retro would also be the decorating style that mimics what was once done. For example a new fridge that takes the design of those of the 50s. The retro style can use vintage furniture as retro furniture … If you start to get lost, we will enlighten you all!

Conclusion on the difference between vintage and retro

Our conclusion on these two terms is to privilege difference by origin. One can of course agree that retro, like vintage, has a link with the past.

The retro and vintage styles are similar but the vintage furniture is original furniture (ex: an industrial cabinet of the industrial era with all its old charm), found in antique shops or flea markets, while the retro furniture is new, but imitates older furniture (ex: a Louis XVI chair created today, and we can take directly 6 new for the dining room). Without forgetting the notion of evolution, where a retro piece of furniture today can be a vintage piece of furniture tomorrow (ex: a baroque style telephone, the anachronism make it an atypical work very nice)!

Anyway, many styles can integrate with the retro style or use vintage furniture. For example the industrial style or even the shabby chic style are totally different styles and yet they can be “retro”, which is therefore extremely broad.

If you have found another difference between vintage and retro or if you have another light on these styles, do not hesitate to tell us!

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