California Design, 1930¿1965 Living In a Modern Way

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MIT Press, 2011 - Art - 359 pages
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In 1951, designer Greta Magnusson Grossman observed that California design was "not a superimposed style, but an answer to present conditions.... It has developed out of our own preferences for living in a modern way." California design influenced the material culture of the entire country, in everything from architecture to fashion. This generously illustrated book, which accompanies a major exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, is the first comprehensive examination of California's mid-century modern design. It begins by tracing the origins of a distinctively California modernism in the 1930s by such European migr s as Richard Neutra, Rudolph Schindler, and Kem Weber; it finds other specific design influences and innovations in solid-color commercial ceramics, inspirations from Mexico and Asia, new schools for design training, new concepts about leisure, and the conversion of wartime technologies to peacetime use (exemplified by Charles and Ray Eames's plywood and fiberglass furniture).

The heart of California Design is the modern California home, famously characterized by open plans conducive to outdoor living. The layouts of modernist homes by Pierre Koenig, Craig Ellwood, and Raphael Soriano, for example, were intended to blur the distinction between indoors and out. Homes were furnished with products from Heath Ceramics, Van Keppel-Green, and Architectural Pottery as well as other, previously unheralded companies and designers. Many objects were designed to be multifunctional: pool and patio furniture that was equally suitable indoors, lighting that was both task and ambient, bookshelves that served as room dividers, and bathing suits that would turn into ensembles appropriate for indoor entertainment.

California Design includes 350 images, most in color, of furniture, ceramics, metalwork, architecture, graphic and industrial design, film, textiles, and fashion, and ten incisive essays that trace the rise of the California design aesthetic.


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Corporate Sponsors Statement
Living in a Modern Way Wendy Kaplan
2 The Rise of California Modern Design 193041 Christopher Long
Émigré Designers in California Bobbye Tigerman
California Architects and the Modern Home Nicholas Olsberg
5 At Home with California Modern 194565 Pat Kirkham
Unexpected Dividends Bill Stern
Graphic Design in California Jeremy Aynsley
The Dissemination of California Design 194565 Wendy Kaplan and Staci Steinberger
Map of California 193065
Checklist of the Exhibition
Lenders to the Exhibition
Illustration Credits

The DesignerCraftsman in Postwar California Glenn Adamson
Modernism in Textiles and Fashion Melissa Leventon

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About the author (2011)

Wendy Kaplan is Department Head and Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

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