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retrotempo | Retro Design – The Squircle - retrotempo

Retro Design – The Squircle

The rounded square or rectangle has featured frequently in retro design.  An infamous example is the passenger windows in the 1950s Comet airliner.  Infamous, because of catastrophic failure due to stress related metal fatigue emanating at the rounded corner.comet window  But squircles became particularly fashionable in the 70s through to the early 80s.  You could see them in wall paper and curtain designs, cars, furniture and even square plates.  Design items that had previously been steadfastly square, rectangular or round were now redesigned  using squircles.  Most often, the squircles were overlapped and intersected and then coloured in shades of orange and brown or brown and blue.  It is perhaps no surprise that when I chose a logo for Retrotempo, I chose a Squircle in brown and beige.retrotempo logo square

The word Squircle sounds like a made up, comedy name, but it is in fact a recognised mathematical term for a rounded square.  It even has a precise mathematical formula:

(x-a) ^4 +(y-b)^4 =r^4           NB: ^ “means to power of”

quartic steering wheel Allegro

During this period, designers went to extreme lengths to incorporate the Squircle into their designs. Perhaps the most controversial was the design for a “quartic” steering wheel on the Austin Allegro.

Metal Box Energis, Reading, Berkshire Facing NorthEven architects were driven to experiment with squircles. The so called “Energis Building” in Reading has Squircle shaped windows (on top of a hexagonal layout).  If you look closely, you can still see good example of Squircles.  The Apple iPhone and iPad are Squircles.  Perhaps style never goes out of fashion?

By Paul Bates (thepaulbates)

If you like this, then try this Retro Design.  To see more like this, click here Retro designer items

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