Design in the Fifties: When Everyone Went Modern

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Prestel, 1998 - Design - 157 pages
After having been reviled for decades, the 1950s has finally been reconsidered for its freshness, freedom, and oblique vision of the world. The colorful, organic style that most decisively defined the period came to be seen as eccentric and frivolous, but now 1950s design has become collectible and examples from this decade are taking their place in museums alongside other classics of the century.

Design in the Fifties: When Everyone Went Modern includes numerous full-color and black-and-white illustrations of examples of design from the period, ranging from architecture, engineering, and transport to clothing, appliances, and tableware, and from economical, good design creations to dime-store novelties. The book examines the innovative style that reflected the new optimism and consumerism of postwar culture, tracing its development not only in the context of art and design but also in terms of history. It shows a society smitten with the idea of being modern and influenced by the growing field of marketing, advertising and the powerful new medium of television. The objects gain a broader sense of context because many of them are illustrated in advertisements from the 1950s, seen from the perspective of their period.

This highly readable book analyzes and documents the interaction of a wide range of design objects and styles from the 1950s, making it of interest not only to the specialist but also to a broader public.

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Becoming Modern
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About the author (1998)

George H. Marcus is director of publications at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and teaches the history of 20th-century design at the University of Pennsylvania.

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