Carmel Magazine

Carmel Magazine, Spring 2018

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 89 of 219

he world was rushing to explore space. Elvis Presley rocked the radio, while Marilyn Monroe lit up movie theaters across the country. The war was over. Architects and artists took the design world by storm with a study of balance and symmetry, blurring the lines between Art Deco and Minimalism. This period between 1950 to 1965 would come to be known as Mid-Century Modern. Forget heavy car ved furniture and, instead, embrace tapered chair legs, clean lines and low profile furniture in bursts of secondary colors such as orange and olive green. Nothing from that era was dis- tressed, weathered or a little bit shabby. It was instead a ruthless editing of space. A discipline of addition through subtraction. Any of us growing up in the '70s can still recall the colors and style of that time. My Mom's sofa was covered in a tweedy green fabric with tapered thin legs and tossed with orange crushed velvet pillows. There was a wooden teak slat bench in the entry, and a pair of porce- lain lamps with mariachi players flanking the couch, while a green Murano bubbly ashtray sat on the burl wood slab coffee table. My mother's kitchen counter was of mint green tile with a pink telephone sitting in one corner. I hated it all at the time. There are buzzwords that describe that span of home decor in the '50s through the '70s . . . modular, minimalist, forged, machinist, avant grade, bru- talist. But I like to think of it as a period of design seduced by the years when America joined the atomic age. Space-inspired metals of brass and chrome took flight in Starburst clocks and Sputnik style light fixtures. Black leather lounge chairs molded in Danish teak, tossed with sheepskin throws and, for the spirit imbibers, atomic-patterned and metallic barware sat on rolling metal and glass bar carts. Dinnerware also channeled retro vibes, as the '50s and '60s defined the art of the perfect dinner party. Mid-Century Modern is the cultural era in interior, graphic design, architecture, and urban development, celebrating the style that is now recognized by scholars and museums worldwide as a significant design movement. With the clean simplicity of furniture design, mid-century architecture embraced the movement by creating structures fea- turing ample windows and open floor plans, with the intention of opening up inte- rior spaces and bringing the outdoors in. The coast has long been a superlative showcase for eco-conscious modern archi- tecture. Kipp Stewart, a prolific designer of Mid-Century Modern furni- ture, built Ventana Inn & Spa, Big Sur's first luxury resort, in 1970. The 'Butterfly House' in Carmel, with its stunning views and butterfly roof, fuses with one of the most raw, beautiful seaside plots in the world. Originally built in 1950 by architect Frank Wynkoop, the home has changed hands twice before its recent sale, for a staggering $16.5 million. Heading inland to the deserts of Palm Springs, host to Modernism Week, the design festival attracting thousands of Mod fans, there are entire neighborhoods that bear the butterfly rooflines designed by Donald Wexler and the distinctive flat roofs, square edges and floor-to-ceiling win- dows of Richard Neutra. It's a holdover from their 1950s-'60s heydey 88 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • S P R I N G / S U M M E R 2 0 1 8 COLLECTING T E X T A N D P H OTO G R A P H Y B Y M A R J O R I E S N O W The Atomic Age of Mid-Century Modern T Art Deco revival "Z" bar stools, brass with blush seats, originally designed by Gilbert Rohde.

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Carmel Magazine - Carmel Magazine, Spring 2018