I love vintage Pyrex. I love it all but I have to declare a special place in my heart is reserved for psychedelic Pyrex. That isn’t an official term, it’s just one I use for some of the more exuberant patterns produced worldwide in the ‘Sixties and ‘Seventies. One of the things that is so striking about this type of Pyrex is that it seems to have the properties of a TARDIS – one glance at it and you’re immediately transported back several decades. There’s no problem with dating it either, it is so beautifully and unashamedly of its time.
Apparently, according to many interior design experts, including the team at Elle Decor, the ‘Seventies are back with a vengeance in terms of interiors, so now is a good time to take a closer look at the Pyrex of that period. Sadly I missed this exciting time but my mum (I did promise to say she only just remembers it herself!) says it was a mixed bag, the music and TV were good, some of the more high end interiors were stunning but in her opinion the clothes were best forgotten. Apparently, my uncle had a pair of rust coloured flares which had brightly embroidered flowers on them up to the knee and HE WORE THEM IN PUBLIC!!!! What may not have worked on gentlemen’s trousers, certainly did on ovenware though, as Indiana and Briarwood prove!
Some of the other big interior design trends for 2019 are nature (this always seems to be “in” in one form or another!) and sustainability, both of these are good news for Pyrex fans keen to make their collections a central part of their interior design schemes. Natural themes and sustainability also work well with the ‘Seventies colour palette and ethos and they are all tailor made to showcase vintage Pyrex. According to design pundits mid century modern is now well and truly over! I beg to differ but as a vintage Pyrex person I suppose I’m biased. Just the number of TV shows heavily featuring mid mod, such as Endeavour, The Marvellous Mrs Maisel and upcoming dramas (in the UK – not sure when/if these will get to the US) Summer of Rockets and The Trial of Christine Keeler, will keep the best of mid century modern at the top of the design agenda.
‘Seventies colour schemes could vary somewhat, bright colours were certainly ‘in’ but so were the more muted hues of mustard yellow, olive green and a myriad of shades of brown, colours often found in nature. This brings me neatly to one of the best vintage JAJ patterns ever, the stunning Toledo! Strictly speaking, Toledo is a late ‘Sixties pattern but (somewhat ironically) it’s also the one which many collectors see as all the best of ‘Seventies decor rolled into one design. Toledo is arguably the most famous of the ‘Medallion’ patterns which JAJ were famous for in the ‘Sixties and early ‘Seventies. Interestingly, the medallion motif is also back as a burgeoning design trend in itself for 2019. Toledo therefore ticks all the boxes if you want to be at the cutting edge this year as it embodies the ‘Seventies, is in colours associated with nature and heavily featured in the groovy ‘Seventies colour palette and as it’s vintage, also speaks to sustainability. Toledo casseroles come in both the Easy-Grip and later styles, both of which fit the ‘Seventies interiors style but personally I find the Easy-Grip much more pleasing, with its roundness and bubble lid. Of course, the Easy-Grip style had all but been discontinued at the start of the ‘Seventies, so the later style casserole may well have been seen as more desirable and modern at the time.
The time machine that is Toledo!
Of course, one of the advantages of being a vintage Pyrex collector in the twenty-first century, as opposed to someone with a brand new set of Pyrex dishes in the ‘Seventies, is that we can proudly display our Pyrex to be admired by our friends wherever we like in our homes whereas a person in the ‘Seventies would have been seen as somewhat eccentric if they had suggested that their Pyrex could be used for interior design purposes, rather than just for Coq Au Vin! Vintage Pyrex now takes pride of place in many a display cabinet but of course you could just as easily use a favourite piece in other places (I say this as someone who uses a duck egg Carnival Cinderella as a fruit bowl). With Cinderella bowls popping up as light shades and plant pots, I see no reason why a Pyrex piece which you adore could not be placed on a sideboard or coffee table, just as a vase or other decorative accessory would be. A stack of Easy-Grip casseroles would look pretty good on living room shelves or, if you’re lucky enough to have one, on a ‘Sixties/‘Seventies Scandinavian sideboard, chosen either to match the main colour scheme of a room, or as a contrast.
The ‘Seventies trend emphasises different textures, like rattan, wood, wicker, wool and of course shag pile carpets (I have no direct experience of these but can imagine they are very high maintenance and a nightmare if you have pets or small children!) and glass fits very well with them. It’s sort of ironic then that it was in the ‘Seventies that JAJ decided to team plastic with its glass by introducing glass cups with brightly coloured plastic ‘sleeves’ and Stack’N’Store containers – glass storage jars with plastic lids – not, in my opinion anyway, their finest hour.