In this informative and lively book, Elizabeth Guffey cuts through the ambiguities of the term retro and examines its roots, evolution and myriad manifestations...Throughout, the book seeks to understand how and why the recent past has been transformed into a revolving door of pop historicism...Based on considerable original research and including rich anecdotal material, the book is aimed at all readers interested in retro as well as twentieth century art, design and consumer culture.

Concept for Living magazine


Provides an interesting take on the various rapidly recycling revivals of the late 20th century...a thought-provoking read - it weaves in lots of fresh and stimulating material which adds to our understanding of the complexities of post war cultural life.

Building Design, 20 October 2006

Catherine Croft

This enjoyable exploration of retro chic begins in 1966 - or possibly 1896. Guffey insists "it projected a future that never was" (and) offers an intriguing investigation of our seduction by the past

The Independent (UK), 27 October 2006

Christopher Hirst, Christina Patterson & Boyd Tonkin

What happens when a stylistic revival is neither merely ironic nor flooded with sentimentality? Elizabeth Guffey considers retro's resistance to modernist progressive cheerleading and, in fact, its rewriting of modernism itself. Deftly drawing from popular culture, consumerist trends, and design history, Guffey has created a great read and a challenging history in her brave, dizzying, and entirely useful study.

Maud Lavin

Maud Lavin is Professor of Visual and Critical Studies and Art History, Theory, and Criticism at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is the author of Clean New World: Culture, Politics, and Graphic Design (MIT, 2002) and editor of The Business of Holidays (Monacelli, 2004).

Retro suggests a chic nostalgic style, a knowing appropriation of the out-moded as a gesture of smart recuperation. But Guffey shows us that the term refers to a range of design practices, each itself marking a historical relation to a recent or more distant past. Retro turns out to be a process of self-conscious history making in popular and artistic culture. In this readable, richly informed text, Guffey exposes the ideology and variety of Retro styles. A model of design scholarship -- hip, knowledgable, and lucid.

Johanna Drucker

Johanna Drucker is the Robertson Professor of Media Studies at the University of Virginia. Her most recent book is Sweet Dreams: Contemporary Art and Complicity (University of Chicago, 2005). Other scholarly titles include Theorizing Modernism (Columbia University, 1994) and The Alphabetic Labyrinth (Thames and Hudson, 1995).