Posted in The Publications

Midcentury Motifs

The people of the mid 1900s were absolutely fascinated with the idea of all things foreign and futuristic. Many of the motifs for decor, accents, and conversation pieces really reflected this. Simplified designs and sketches of motifs like pineapples, flamingoes, Chinese cultural symbols, and French-inspired accessories were highly prized by these households for their fanciful uniqueness. In the summer months (which are nearly among us now), there was a particular interest in the idea of tropical paradise that captivated the minds of most everyone of the infamous Midcentury.

There was reciprocal influence between society and the media: In postwar America, people pawned over the artifacts and pictures of places that the armed forces toured. They craved unique conversation pieces like Buddha statues and palm trees. The exotic interests were self-evident in media, too. Songs like “Come Fly with Me”, “Faraway Places”, and “Stranger in Paradise” (Harpie’s favorite), were radio-famous from crooners like Bing Crosby, Ol’ Blue Eyes, and others. All of them had the element of fantasy and vacation close to heart.

Still not enough? Let’s take care to check out the history of the lawn flamingo. Those blasted plastic creations of modernized art have been a staple of Landscape Americana since 1957. You can thank Donald Featherstone for the charming little birdies! As a sculpture at first, this guy was on quite a roll with this assignment of his. Read the full articles here: http://mentalfloss.com/article/28099/brief-history-plastic-pink-flamingohttp://savetheflamingos.org/lawn-flamingo-history… Feel free to strut your feathers and grab one while they’re hot (pink, that is). This is probably the most iconic of the motifs used in the middle of the century, and can arguably be the most recognizeable symbol of suburban Americana.

Want more? We can go as far as subdivide the fascination with the faraway places into two more distinct categories. There were two broad localities that drew the eyes of America: Island paradises in the Pacific and Asia. The palm trees and pineapples are pretty self-explanatory: they come from the love of tropical adventure fantasies. But, the exotic kimonos, Japanese maples, and ornate tea sets speak volumes of more oriental tongues. Our only theory of what fueled this renewed interest in the Far East has to be, yup- you guessed it: World War 2. There are so many things that this world-altering war (pun intended) triggered.

flamingosvintagechinapostcards

Consider this: your sweetheart leaves for war and is coming home safe per your latest letter exchange. He brings back souvenirs from his travels. Japan’s tea and photographs of pagodas and China’s fine silk kimonos and cheongsams leave you breathless. You simply must show them off at bridge club next week! Suddenly, the dry goods from Asia become coveted and adored by the entire nation.

Some other motifs from the mid century come from design elements in guitar shops,

image
This is an Eastman airlines guitar, this embodies the bold styling from the mid century for me. It has the look of a classic car, bold accents,hard curves, and they sound like classic guitars because of their unique build style, and are unmistakably a motif of mid century design elements.

The other end of the spectrum in guitar designs is my favourite guitar designs of all time, the telecaster;
image

While simple and not as bold a design, its a symbol of classic rock and roll, and embodies the simple yet effective style of engineering that brought us to today, I still like it classic myself tho ;).

 

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Author:

For over 4 amazing years, it has been an experience, a pleasure, and a journey to be a revivalist. I love all things retro and antique. Writing has been a passion of mine since middle school and throughout my professional career. For all those who are inspired to be vintage, challenge the norms in the name of tradition! We write for a better, more inspired tomorrow <3

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