My Own Personal Retro

21 Oct 2011|Cultural Insight Team

Zagreb’s Museum of Broken Relationships
Zagreb’s Museum of Broken Relationships (

Zagreb’s Museum of Broken Relationships ( is coming to London, asking people to send in personal objects that represent the decline of a relationship. At the same time we’ve seen – and love – a website where people re-create a moment, now lost, by taking a picture of a picture of the past in the present.

Dear Photograph
Dear Photograph (

We know that people are looking back, seeking less complex times. We’ve heard and seen a lot of retro over the past decade. It’s been around so long that even John Lewis are reviving it. Brands in particular have been very fond of reminding us that they are celebrating their 100 something-th birthday. (Coke, Lurpak and Persil… yawn)

Coca-Cola 125 years
Coca-Cola 125 years (

But surely memories are personal, not collective? The objects from the museum of lost love are poignant because their real significance is known only to the original owner. They carry an aura that goes beyond the collective memory, operating more like the Proustian Madeleine. They evoke the direct and personal experience of times past, rather than the institutionalised nostalgia for the Summer of Love, or the crazy neon Eighties .

Is retro over now? Shouldn’t we be looking to interact with our own personal past?  How can we create things that genuinely take people back? That offer the poignancy and emotional impact of a moment, long forgotten, suddenly – and with a sharp intake of breath – brought back to life?

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