Saturday, September 24, 2005

First::Saving Mid-Century Modern

Mid-Century Modern is known by many names: The retro look, atomic age, googie, Eames era, Knoll look, and George Nelson style. Roughly encompassing the 1930s to the 1970s, there is no question that the heights of Mid-Century modern were the 1950s and 1960s. What began as Art Deco Moderne in the inter-war years, morphed into something quintessentially optimistic and democratic after WWII. Clean lines, born in the scarcities of war-time rationing, came to mean progress and modernity to the United States. Americans, tired of the bleak war years, embraced a style of life that promised the future, today. Young families, eager to leave formality behind, bought homes, cars, furnishings and a new lifestyle.

It really was a lifestyle revolution. The idea that if you lived a modern lifestyle you were modern and progressive meant that we mass consumed our way past The Joneses. Families demanded houses with open spaces to live together, instead of closed formal parlors. Affordable furniture, designed for comfort and panache, were accessible to most. The most amazing part of this revolution was that it spread to all areas of consumption. From beautiful and clean lined architecture to furniture, cars, accessories, home appliances, every area of the culture was transformed.

Unfortunately, the beautiful homes that fifty years ago came to symbolize the modern life, are losing out to the fads of the day. Who knows how many homes have been lost to an aggressive rustic makeover or a well-intentioned but hideous cottage update?

My aim is to publicize outstanding examples of Mid-Century Modern in Utah. Maybe if I can show you the hidden jewels that surround, you’ll take up the fight to preserve the optimism of the Mid-Century Modern style.


Rachel said...

can't wait to see some of your gems. my grandma lives in provo on sumac (right behind the mtc). there is a house belonging to alex darais (i don't know him at all, but the name has stayed with me because i've always been intrigued by the house before i even knew what mid-century modern was all about...) that i think you might love. i've only seen the outside of it, but it's amazing from the outside. i haven't driven by for several years, so i don't remember the exact street name, but it's near the stadium, marriott ctr, and mtc. i'll try to figure it out and let you know the address.

Azúcar said...

Thanks for the tip! I've already taken a bunch of pictures that I'm really excited to start blogging about. I'm sure you'll recognize a lot of the places since I started with the Tree Streets. I'll look up the house you mentioned to put on my list.

Isn't interesting how we were always drawn to mid-century forms even before we had a name for it?

lisa v. clark said...

I love mid-century design. I've tried to incorporate it into my mid-century (kinda) house. I'm looking for some fabric to go in my boys' room. (blues, browns, circles?open to suggestion)
Any suggestions?

Azúcar said...


Here is one of my favorite sites:

If you want to do it yourself and save the cash you should check out Todd Oldham's great new series on HGTV called Handmade Modern.
He had an idea yesterday for making regular duvets & pillowcases into modern linens. Todd took plastic cups and dipped them in paint to make a great circle pattern on the duvet and pillowcases. A great idea to springboard your creativity. (Yes, Susan Sarandon does guest, but she's not too annoying this time.)

Rachel said...

how fun! i'll have to check out the show on hgtv. (that is if my daughter let's me change the channel from noggin...)

like you said, carina, we are drawn to the style of mid-cent mod before we knew there was an entire's so weird. i loved this streng house--and west elm stuff--and hakatai glass mosaics--and danish furniture--and little did i know, i lived in a mid century neighborhood. the homes are great. it's fun to see the pics you've posted from my ward. my parents' home is totally that style (right up on oak lane--1760 to be exact)BUT there have been 2 additions to the parents did a really tasteful one, but the previous is far more countryish.

Azúcar said...

I can't wait to see your reaction to my next post :)

Stay tuned...

Rachel said...

michael miller makes great retro graphic fabrics. there is an ebay seller named zeetzeet that has great fabrics. sometimes she has awesome retro reproductions. i love the m.m. polka-dot genre. there is a brown with light blue polka dots fabric on there now. or at least she was selling it last time. i think her store's name is fabric connections. you can find her by typing in "mod fabric"