There is nothing new under the sun. So spoketh Solomon and/or Shakespeare, depending on who you believe.
Either way, it’s unlikely they were referring to web design, but as we enter into an uncertain future, there’s no denying there’s a strange comfort in nostalgia – Hey, look at hipsters for starters.
Everywhere you turn online we’re confronted with roaring 20s typeface, swinging 60s splash pages and… erm… Bronze-age breadcrumbs.
These aren’t necessarily the newest, or even greatest examples of retro design, but each had a range of elements both subtle and strong that I felt showcased how design can influence story and branding.
With this in mind, here are some great examples that I hope will inspire your own online vintage makeovers. Click on the images to head to each site.
Burger and Lobster
Let’s start with this from the London (and now NYC) based purveyors of quality crustaceans.
A lovely ‘one-sheet’ site filled to bursting with drawings that may be meant to recall Scarfe, but to my mind summons up classic Disney. It’s an unusual and refreshing approach to navigation, so kudos for not disrupting the UX.
Dishoom’s website takes the restaurant’s ‘faded opulence’ vibe and runs with it, with plenty of retro filters and colour choices lending a 1960s feel that works well with the smooth transitions.
Bold & Noble
Retro design is certainly easier if you sell retro products, and this is a great example of web design reflecting the inventory, with lots of snazzy fonts aiding the handmade feel.
I’m quite a fan of craft beer, so I spent a while searching through the sites of Siren, Beavertown, 5 Points and more before happening on Moncada’s home page, which blends Victorian styling with modern flourishes – not unlike the brewery’s home in Notting Hill.
A tiny site, but some lovely elements in just the right places, with minimalist artwork designed to replicate wooden cutouts. The chicken is pretty tasty too.
Small Stone Records
Long-time supporters of the New Wave of American garage rock, Small Stone Record’s site positively drips low-slung 70s eight-track cool. Come for the design choices, stay for the amazing jukebox.
The New York Moon
An oldie but a… erm… ‘silvery’, unique publication NY Moon holds the spirit of Tesla close to its heart, with verbose copy half-ripped from ‘popular mechanics’ and some great cut ‘n’ paste electronic imagery.
People’s Park Tavern
Technically this is a Tumblr, but I’m throwing it in as it has some great pointers to help you create your own retro content (and happens to be around the corner from my house).
The pub revels in its hipster location, filling pages with filtered images of the in-house brewery and tilt-shifted images from the garden for always-on nostalgia.
Omni’s reboot site features an entirely different kind of retro – the future, or at least, the future we imagined in the past.
Gorgeous artwork aplenty, and a cast-chrome guarantee of at least one petulant robot per issue.
A travel site with a unique combination of down-home typography, and whisky-drenched imagery encouraging you to partake in country music, bourbon and rolling hills.
The Ginger Pig
A quality butcher that makes sure everything it does reflects heritage, from its pig breeds to its website. Swirly type, charming old paintings and lots and lots of storytelling support the excellent sausage rolls.
Britain’s cosiest festival makes up for what it may lack in rock ‘n’ roll excess in multi-coloured joy. A circus of images push its family-friendly theme to the fore.
La Bodega negra
A feast for the eyes as well as the belly, La Bodega Negra makes fine use of vintage photography to up its dangerous, drag racing, hell-raising heritage and encourage you to nip in for a mezcal cocktail or three.
More a case of ‘stayed with us so long that it became retro’, J. Peterman’s predilection for effortlessly cool 1960s draughtsmanship to showcase its products manages to be timeless, even if you can’t shake the feeling that Elaine is writing the copy.
Glazed & Infused
I’ve so far (just) managed to avoid any cupcake sites in this round-up, so you’ll forgive me if I include donut-masters Glazed & Infused.
A nice combo of modern Pinterest-and-flat-design influence with a vintage touch.
The more I look at Anthropologie’s site, the more relaxed I become. Honey-dipped photography, swirling, hand-written fonts and a liberal sprinkling of language that appears to be plucked from an Agatha Christie novel all add up to a luxurious ecommerce experience.
Channelling the spirit of Flashman, Bombardier has some great images, and a playful, over-the-top tone of voice that forces you to read it in a shouting sergeant-major voice. Bang on indeed.
While it may not be the most complex site on the list, Hawksmoor manages to cram in lots of little details that just work.
Some lovely fonts, informative video and a range of t-shirts that I can’t imagine anyone actually ever wearing combine to give off a handcrafted feel throughout, like a friend just drew the location map out for you.
Another example of the crafted look and feel, with hand-stamps and individual signatures reminding you of how much love and attention must go into every bottle.
The California winemaker succeeds in combining subtle design with storytelling to deliver its message effectively.
Second Life Festival
Given that it’s a vintage festival, it’s no surprise to see the design choice made by Second Life Fest, but it’s still well-executed, with elements of collage, classic film clips and plenty of kitsch telling you exactly what to expect.
It’s surprising how many cinemas cast aside movie history in favour of selling you another mega-gulp and nacho combo, but fortunately Everyman remembers and loves its heritage, with the glamour of vintage Hollywood perfectly positioning the brand as the ‘film-lovers choice’.
Not technically a designed site, but brilliant and disturbing in equal measure.