My son remarked to me the other day that he felt that he had been born about 25 years too late, and should have grown up in the 80s. I laughed and told him that I thought the same thing about myself; I would’ve been right at home growing up in the mid-50s/early-60s. I have always been drawn to the architecture and design of the era and I can’t honestly remember a time that a good Formica counter top, a sunburst clock or an Eames chair didn’t make my heart beat a little faster. Eco-friendly tote, featuring an Eames chair silhouette (below), by Modist.
I don’t know if Atomic Age design ever really went away (not in my books, anyway), but it has really made quite a comeback over the past few years. I’m sure a big factor in that has been the popularity of the program Mad Men, but I like to think that it was just the world coming to its senses. After a couple of really questionable decades of design, we are once again appreciating the clean lines, bright colours and clever shapes of mid-century modernism.
Some creative craftspeople, like Mark and Jeff of Ypsilanti, MI are taking this appreciation one step further and incorporating the everyday items of this time into fresh, new objects of desire. Take this piece, for example – a simple container intended to store your leftovers has been taken off kitchen duty and transformed into an awesome table lamp (above). Check out the Boots n Gus shop for even more lamps in all sorts of shapes and sizes, like the pendant light at the top of this article; you’ll be seeing Tupperware in a whole new light!
Another ingenious example of retro kitchenware finding a home in the living room is this eggbeater clock, pictured above, by Kim aka The Sassy Crafter. Made from 12 recycled electric beaters (and a whole lotta cheek), these clocks are a brilliant reinterpretation of the classic mid-century sunburst design and can be purchased as-is from Kim’s shop, or custom ordered to match your decor.
When we’re talking about mid-century design, I can’t go without mentioning the advertising of the age. It was a time of rampant consumerism and the ads were a perfect reflection of that; shoppers scrambled to fill their homes with the optimistic, modern goods that would separate them from the stodgy belongings previous generations. To that end, ad agencies seized the opportunity and pushed the idea that new was best and the future was now, such as in this advertisement for Scripto Satellite pens, cleverly made into a durable coaster (below) by Jenn and Jenny of Robot Candy. Maybe it’s just me, but 50 years later it still makes me want to buy a pen (and a coaster, for that matter)!
Ironically, our nostalgia for this time has us channeling the Drapers and filling our homes with the relics of the atomic age. Even with the advances in science and technology since then, the many of the designs and fabrications still seem modern and relevant…perhaps the future is (still) now.
“Mad Men”-inspired print, above, by Yumalum.