Sunday, July 28, 2013

vintage prairie style: revival store

vintage prairie style: revival store: A big thanks to Revival for featuring this little blog in their work that blog series. It was a happy surprise! A friend visited this s...

Monday, February 4, 2013

POPULUXE - A Mode For The Masses

For amazing Vintage Advertising prints, visit

For Collectible Retro, visit

Do you know why, in this day and age, we recognize a McDonald's from a distant mile? See it - before we smell it? Why we need but a glimpse of Tim Horton's to soothe our steering? You may be surprised at just how and when this all began.

It's impossible to look at Populuxe design without taking a peek at the trends which came before it. Streamline Moderne was responsible for cleaning up modern design and Googie for dolling it up again. 

Without Streamline Moderne, there would be no Googie and no Populuxe. Originating in the 1930's during and after the Great Depression, Streamline Moderne unceremoniously stripped Deco of its lavish ornamental features. 

Unlike the Roaring Twenties giddy on The Charleston, Champagne and Cocaine, the Thirties called for harsh austerity. Googie stripped away the frills and straightened out the lines. Equally, America's love affair with machine age technology, travel and ocean liners - informed design elements celebrating Speed and Motion.

Some Stunning Streamline Moderne

Faster Faster

Look Pa - No Frills

Like so many good things, Streamline Moderne movement came to its fateful end. The style lost its appeal and, sadly, many edifices have gone to Good Architecture Heaven. America wanted something pretty again.

Small Town Streamline - Farewell

Toronto, Canada - And then came the Condo

Enter Googie

Googie originiated in 1949 in Southern California with the Googie (nickname of the owner's wife) coffee shop, designed by John Lautner, located on Sunset Boulevard. Unfortunately, the architectural birthplace (like so many iconic buildings) was demolished in 1986.

However, the oldest McDonald's stand in Downey, California in 1953 still stands and is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

McDonalds - Easily McSeen

Wayne McAllister was, no doubt, one of the early pioneers of Googie. Commissioned to design Bob's Big Boy restaurant in Burbank, California, McAllister single-handedly changed big branding forevermore. We can thank or resent Googie for a number of things.

Now that America had the automobile, America wanted to travel and America needed to eat along the way. To catch the attention of those zooming motorists and their bursting wallets, style became a must.

In the 1950s McAllister came up with the novel idea of developing unique branding for coffee shop chains by creating a recognizable style for each client. Travelling and getting a bite along the way would never be the same. Ravenous travellers could now see their snack-stop before they could smell it.

Can't Miss It

Hello 1950's. America was prosperous again. Anything was possible. How could one ignore it? And modern design reflected and exploited the country's optimism and rampant materialism.

Enter Populuxe

POPULUXE - the term, itself, combines two fundamental concepts - "populism, the popular" and "luxury". Luxury exists and it's here for everyone. Get some gas, grab a burger and check out the drive-in. Second wind? Go for a bowl. 

It's style and it's all for you (or rather, it's for all of you).

Atomic Era where Signage and Architecture burst with the all things molecular - atomic bursts, diagonals, boomerangs.

Hello 1960's ... The Space Age. America's going into orbit and there's no turning back. Surely, now that the Russians have spun around in space and the U.S. is busy chasing them, one can't be expected to sit tight here on earth.

Populuxe consecrates rockets, satellites, orbits and the galaxy. Ground Control to Design World: "Make it look like it could lift off."

Design in Orbit

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Space Age - Three, Two, One ... Lift-Off

For amazing Vintage Advertising Prints, visit

For Collectible Retro, visit 

Feverish fads come and go, but few fascinations have taken hold of the American psyche with greater fervour than The Atomic Age ... surpassed perhaps only by The Space Age. 

The Atomic Age, ushered in with unprecedented optimism and enthusiasm for all things atomic, eventually found itself on uneasy ground clouded by a preoccupation with the possibility of nuclear armageddon.

Enter The Space Age. What a timely and perfect distraction from The Fall-Out Shelter, fear of atomic annihilation and the imminent "Red Scare". How much more attractive an option ... to check out of this earthly doom and imagine riding a rocket into Outer Space. 

On October 4, 1956, Sputnik successfully orbited the earth in 98.1 minutes. This momentous event ushered in what came to be known as The Space Age. 

The lovely little Sputnik weighs in at 83 kg

On October 7, 1959 the Soviet spacecraft Luna 3 took the first photograph of "The Far Side of the Moon".

The United States was beaten to the punch by the Soviets and President Kennedy hit the accelerator full throttle. As U.S. policy had demonstrated time and again, the notion that "The Other Side" could possess something desired by America - set off all-American alarm bells. The Space Race was on. Once again, the Soviets won first place when Yuri Gagarin became the first Cosmonaut to travel in Outer Space. Oh, those Russians.

Yuri Gagarin orbits the earth on April 20, 1961

First Spaceship "Vostok" returns to Earth

Kennedy set the gears full throttle to advance America's space technology and to instil confidence in the public that the U.S. would lead the Space Race. A much-needed diversion from the Duck and Cover syndrome - the U.S. both stimulated and exploited the new enthusiasm for space travel. 

And The Space Craze was born.

You name it - Outer Space revealed itself in all things earthly - Interior Design, Architecture, Fashion, Typography, Automobile Design, Television, Toys, Entertainment, Film, Cartoons, Advertising. The cosmic possibilities endless.

Get Ready for Lift-Off

Space Age Motifs

Characterized by all things Outer Space - domes, parabolas, satellites, rockets, comets and, of course, the moon.

Rocket Ship Bedtime

Modular Living

The Age of The Automobile

Come Fly Away ...

Half-Rocket ... Half-Car

The Airstream - Always Ahead of Its Time


Ground Control to ........

Iconic Galactic Jane

Home Away From Home

Space Age Fashion Meets Op-Art (another blog)

Which came first? The Mini or The Space Age

And then came "Twister"

Space Travel Sells - Advertising

"The Moon - A cleaner place to live"

Robot Rage

I, Robot and I, Creepy Kid

From Pencil to Missile


Fascination with Space Travel took television by storm. The Jetsons, Lost in Space, Raumpatrouille Orion (Germany), Life in Outer Space, Rocket Ship 7 and Commander Tom. And the infusion of melodrama in Space TV virtually normalized the notion that these people were floating around in Space.

The Shape of Things to Come

Honourable Mention - The Picture Phone
(way ahead of its time)


Fascination with Space Travel took television by storm. The Jetsons, Lost in Space, German show, Life in Outer Space became virtually normalized in drama in shows like

You Silly Robot

Outer Galactic Oz ?

Rocket Ship 7

Commander Tom

Outer Space is Serious Stuff

In Germany - Raumpatrouille Orion with Eva Pflug

"I just gotta get outta this place."

Even Tin Tin Goes To the Moon

"Meet George Jetson ... his wife,  Jane ..."

Spirit In The Sky

WARNING - Don't Get Lost

In America - all fascinations can become frightening.

Land of the Giants  1968-1970  (Set in Future Year 1983)

The Time Tunnel  1966-67

Space Age Decor 

Lunar Inspiration

Lunar Eclipse

Maurice Ascalon Ashtray

Today the Moon. Tomorrow The Rings of Saturn

Extraordinarily Orbital Lighting


Soviet Matchbox Design

A Night out at the Movies

Zsa Zsa - From Hungary to Outer Space via Hollywood

Hello Down There - The Spaceship in the Sea

America Scares Itself Silly

Because let's face it, if WE can find them ... THEY can find us.

It seems it was all fun and lunar lunacy until it dawned on the U.S. that The Unknown hold a surprise or two for we mere Earthlings. Duck and Cover is replaced by Martian Hysteria.

Science Fiction - Double Feature

So this is what the Mounties were up to ...

Music To Our Ears

Claus Visits the Cosmos

No worries. Santa's back and bearing gifts.

Goodbye Space Age Sixties. Enter the Hippy.