Monday, February 4, 2013

POPULUXE - A Mode For The Masses

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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

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