Thursday, February 28, 2013

Trademarks of Nature (Ethyl Gasoline, 1940-1948)

 Good morning!

I was all bound and determined to do a forties' fashion post today, but as I was looking around Google books for suitable material, I fell a little bit in love with, of all things, a series of advertisements for ethyl gasoline. Do I honestly know what that is? Well, no. For all I know, what I'm putting in my car at Kroger's Fuel Center on a bi-monthly basis is watered down popcorn oil-- ignorance is a gross understatement of the state of my mechanical and automotive knowledge. However! I DO know that I love any kind of scientific (ish) drawings of strange, real life creatures, and that, my friends, is what these advertisements are really about.

Take a look:

Armadillo, with an expression like "Who're you callin' 'prehistoric', bub?!"

The banner reads "When you meet these odd creatures, the TRADEMARKS of NATURE identify them for you; when you buy gasoline, the TRADEMARK of ETHYL identifies gasoline stepped up with 'Ethyl' anti-knock compound". I love that the ad straight up calls these creatures out as "odd". Look at that horseshoe crab's underpinnings! And that angry, angry gila monster!

Imagine being a little kid in the pre-Animal Planet, pre-Steve-Irwin 1940's, and seeing some of these weirdo strangeo creatures in fully detailed illustrations, one page across from the more familiar territory of a brunette hawking hair color treatments or a housewife expounding upon the virtues of Folger's. Your socks would be blown right off, don't you think? An actual flying squirrel? The only one of these you may have seen in person as an American eight year old in 1940 is a praying mantis. Otherwise, barring a trip to your local zoo, you may have never even heard of some of these things! Isn't that wild to think about?

You'd better believe I was excited about this whole ad on apes and monkeys. 

While capuchin monkeys are a huge part of any average Youtube video search in our household (that, Stevie Nicks videos, forties' movie trailers, and To Catch a Predator clips dominate our "Your Recommended Videos" feed), seeing one wearing a coat and carrying a staff is touching my undersized human heart. I actually had no idea that their name comes from their pelt and markings' similarities to the habit of a Capuchin monk.You learn something every day! I thought the creature on the right was called a "Han-human", which is hilarious to me, but it turns out it's just a "Hanuman". See how its black brow and face give it a weirdly severe look!

The language of the copy is just adorable, in case you weren't squinting to read the little captions. "Beetling brows", a "devil-mask face" and "tousled mops of long red hair" are the defining characteristics of the above three creatures, respectively. Also, I don't know if its his body language, or the crazy clothes and the trumpet, but I think this chimpanzee below looks less "jolly" and more "dRUNK". I think there may be a similar picture of this monkey freshman year of college, on a girls' floor in violation of visiting hours, horn in hand. "Get that tricycle out of here before the RA sees you!"

The banner for this set read: "When you go down to the sea, the TRADEMARKS of NATURE identify these salty giants!" I have to be honest, these categories are killing me-- odd creatures, apes and monkeys, and salty sea life. All my favorites, covered. Did you know another name for a Manta ray is a "Devil fish"? The caption "The huge devilfish (or Manta) may be easily recognized by a pair of "horns" that Satan himself would be proud of." The italics are my own, but OH MY GOD, DID YOU JUST READ THAT. I officially want to be an ad copywriter for this company, today, now.

I told you guys back in January how impressed I was by the Chattanooga Aquarium when we went for Matthew's birthday... in the future, I really am going to try to make more of an effort to visit aquariums and zoos when I'm traveling out of city and out of state. I think I was so conditioned by my parents' die-hard vacation planning insistence on only museums and only zoos and aquariums that I only ever want to go see the "World's Largest Peanut" or an "Internationally Famous Potato Chip Collection", or similarly hokey-hokum kind of exhibitions when I go on vacation. As an adult, I think I can appreciate how actually awe-inspiring these kind of things are much more than I could when I was a kid, when I mainly wanted to see if the gift store had anything weird encased in lucite for me to take home as a souvenir.

Finally, the reason behind these ads! Look how trim that guy looks in his high waisted denim and his smart little cap. Don't you wish there were still full service stations staffed with guys you'd like to give the eye to? I do! If only so I don't have to get out of my car on cold, cold mornings when I've forgotten I'm almost on "E"!

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed these little creatures as much as I did. Which one is your favorite? Do you think any of these animals would have their feelings hurt if they read this issue of Life and saw all their faults laid out for the world to see? Do you have any old encyclopedias or children's books with similarly bizarre animals on display?

That's all for today-- see you guys tomorrow for Photo Friday!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Dietrich Mania (1930-1931)

Good morning!

This has been the lo-o-o-o-ongest week...and it's only Wednesday! I've been clutching at straws trying to keep my mind occupied at the desk in between insane patrons (is it the full moon that compels people to ask for "pig intestines" at the Nonfiction desk, or do I just have the kind of face that begs to be asked if we carry chitlins? Not books on pig intestines, but the delicacy itself. This actually happened yesterday)-- the online Media History Digital Library that I mentioned a week or so ago in my post on Photoplay advertisements was the sole saving grace of yesterday's reference floor bedlam. As I've been thinking a lot about Dietrich, I put her name into the search terms on Photoplay issues from 1930-1931-- about the time La Dietrich would have appeared on American screens as the smoldering chorus girl Lola-Lola in Von Sternberg's The Blue Angel.

And because it's Photoplay (imagine a kind of classic Hollywood Us or People magazine), of COURSE there's an angle. And that angle is international export versus international export!

While I wouldn't have even thought of comparing the two, the context of Hollywood in 1930 does make a pretty good case for pitting reigning screen queen Garbo against newcomer Dietrich in the hearts of Photoplay readers. Garbo came to America in 1926, and almost immediately enjoyed success as a top box office draw for a series of silent pictures with (dreamy, dreamy, dreamy) on-screen and off-screen paramour John Gilbert. When movies went "talkie" in 1929, there was considerable buzz that the beautiful Swede's thick accent would preclude continued success in pictures-- however, Garbo's first sound movie in 1930, Anna Christie, dismissed once and for all any misgivings about her place in the MGM's firmament of stars. Her husky, exotic voice, to the surprise of many movie-goers, actually added another dimension to her otherworldly beauty, and Anna Christie, marketing under the tagline "GARBO TALKS!", was the highest grossing picture of that year.

Dietrich, on the other hand, had just arrived in the states in 1930 to publicize The Blue Angel, a film in which her star-making performance all but pulls the rug out from under established screen presence Emil Jannings. In a similarly husky, exotic voice, Dietrich sings, she heartlessly a pair of frilly, sequined knickers and top hat (costuming inspiration being borrowed from real drag queens in pre-war Berlin), she literally steals the show right along with the hearts of her audience. Though she would sing the song that became her theme, "Falling in Love Again", another half a million times in her career, her aggressive belting of it in the picture's reprise of the number, legs slung around a backwards-turned chair, as Janning's ruined professor creeps along the sidelines of the nightclub, is just captivating. Half the magic is the director-- but solidly half of it belongs to his newest leading lady.

Two publicity snaps of "Lola-Lola"...see how unfinished the Dietrich look is at this point!

Teamed again with the aforementioned genius director of The Blue Angel, Dietrich's sometimes offscreen lover Josef von Sternberg also directed her follow up picture, Morocco. Playing against that tall drink of water Gary Cooper, the movie presents the tale of a (surprise, surprise) nightclub chanteuse who falls in love with Cooper, a Legionnaire. Her genderbending performance, in a tuxedo, complete with same-sex kiss (!!) in one of the movie's musical numbers (you can see it here), and the last scene (you can see it here), in which she takes off her high heels and you see her tiny footprints in the sand as she joins the Bedouin women who follow the soldiers from encampment to encampment, are iconic, and certainly helped cement her stateside as more than just a new "face".

But what a face! While she dismissed her on-screen appearances in earlier, silent films made at UFA as "a potato with hair", her almost leonine cheekbones and sleepy, deep set eyes, not to mention those famous legs, set her apart from many of her contemporaries in a look that was all her own. While both Garbo and Dietrich exude sex appeal, Dietrich's is more immediate, more kittenish, more in-your-face. I always think of Dietrich, in spite of my great respect and love for Garbo's movies, as more accessible, especially in the seven movies she made with von Sternberg. While her best director and collaborator does carve an absolute madonna's face out of that fabulous bone structure and creative shadows, he also draws performances out of her that crackle like nothing else she would do in Hollywoood for the rest of her career. Dietrich is a fine actress, but never so fine as she was in that run in the early thirties', from 1930-1935.

And the onscreen/offscreen style! The boxy lines and sequins and furs she would wear when she wasn't in tailor-made men's suits. She and close (possibly very close?) actress friend Claudette Colbert were also the first women in Hollywood to go-all-the-way with outrageously thin, drawn on, complete parabola eyebrows. I think each of them looked nothing short of stunning with them, though I'm not sure how you would pull it off in today's world without looking imitative of a chola in a bad way.

This illustration from a Photoplay article about a "typical" day of Dietrich's was just adorable. Look at the newshounds waylaying her first thing out of bed! And not even any strong, black coffee in her yet! Lots of talk of her daughter, Maria, and her husband, Rudolph Sieber, who she married just before appearing in the Blue Angel and with whom she had an extremely open relationship.

You can click on either thumbnail below to read the whole thing in human size...thirties' celebrity magazine writing is a HOOT and I LOVE IT. It's so overwritten without being overwrought in a way that makes me want to take a spin on a typewriter with a correction pencil clamped in my teeth and a derby hat with a press pass stuck in the band smashed on my head.

Here's La Gorgeous in tinted color. Like Garbo and Crawford, I truly wish there was more footage of either in color when they were at the peak of their success and beauty:

And last but not least, while I knew she played the saw during her USO tour appearances in WWII, I did NOT know this talent went all the way back to the beginning of her career! Here she is in her third American-made picture, Dishonored, making music for costar Victor Laglen.

Do you have a thirties' era film star you just adore? If you're a Dietrich fan, what is it about her that just particularly melts your cold, cold heart? Seen any great black and white movies lately? Let's talk!

Hope I didn't talk your collective ears off! It's been awhile since I've dipped into my first love, thirties' Hollywood, but I sure had fun thinking about it, so I appreciate your forbearance! :)

More vintage clips and tips tomorrow, see you back here then!

PS: Do yourself a favor and watch this clip of Dietrich's Berlin screentest, 1930, for The Blue Angel. Emebdding has been disabled or I would be happy to post it here. You'll be glad you did-- what a star, even then!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Boudoir Doll of my Dreams! (....Nightmares?)

Good morning!

I told you guys yesterday that I had something else I picked up at the Phoenix Flea Market...are you sure you're ready for this? BEHOLD:

Beware the stare that will conquer the will of the world!

After I found the red tea dress on Saturday, I walked into the main building of Phoenix, where the desk is, and directly across from it, hanging in front of the locked cases by a bonnet string and wrecked as could be, was this 1930's boudoir doll. Standing, no less! Might I add that standing, this doll is even more striking.

Now, in my many antique trawls through Etsy and Ebay, especially when searching "Marlene Dietrich" or "Mae Murray" or any other similarly femme fatale screen names of the twenties' and thirties', a lot of times these dolls will pop up tagged with those women's names, as their faces bear more than passing resemblance to the smoldering beauties of the time. The dolls are meant to be the finishing touch to a neatly made bed in a pretty, 1930's bedroom... imagine like a throw pillow, but more glamorous. I've seen dozens of them over the years online, all in mint vintage condition, all with three figure price tags...but never in real life.

The doll, in spite of retaining her good looks, has lost a lot of her lustre due to the elements. Was she kept in a barn? An old shut-up house? An attic with a window? The sun damage to her clothes and body are extreme-- top set of false eyelashes have fallen out, the enamel on her face and hands has both crazing and outright cracks, and a dress that was Alice Blue at one time is now a faded oatmeal color, with the lace in her bonnet and trimmings falling off in pieces. In spite of it all, there's something actually extra beautiful about her distressed condition that reminds me of a Jan ┼ávankmajer piece. 

In summation: THIS DOLL IS SO HELENA BONHAM CARTER, PEOPLE. I was smitten, smitten, smitten at first sight.

The woman at the front desk of the Phoenix called out to me, "She sure was beautiful at one time, huh?" And I was holding the doll in my hands, turning her over to see if the stuffing was coming out or if most of the damage was just fading. "I bet she was!" I murmured back, looking at the smoky eyeshadow and kohl-lined eyes of the figure. A notecard had been pinned to her skirt with the legend "30's fashion doll, $42." Keep in mind, I do not spend more than $20 on anything, EVER-- furniture, college tuition, booze, whatever-- without second guessing myself over and over again as to the sense of spending so great a sum of money. I sure wasn't about to spend $42 on a doll, however charmingly wrecked it was. But I also knew that I would not find another one like this in any condition for under fifty bucks, in Tennessee, in the year of our Lord 2013.

This is where Matthew comes in as an enabler. "Babu, you should get that. You've already come back to look at it like twice since we've been here." At the same time as the man feared bringing so obvious a piece of voodoo into our house, he knows me well enough to tell when price alone, and not virtue of the item itself, is holding me back from making a purchase.

How I feel about this doll (intrigued!); how Matthew feels about this doll ("Its eyes pierce my soooooul!").
As I came back to examine it, woefully, a third time, the same woman at the counter hollered to the woman who owned the booth, sitting on a folding chair near the checkout, "Make this girl a deal on this baby doll! She wants it so bad!" I did! I did want it so bad! And, magically enough, SHE did-- make me a deal, that is. "She says she'd take thirty!" the woman relayed to me. For thirty bucks, I silenced the nagging voices of doubt and pulled the trigger on this crazy thing. AND the red dress. No away-from-home dinners this week, and I think my checkbook and I will be on speaking terms again. Jubilation, though! What neat stuff!

While it's by far one of the least "good" deals I've made on something, I was beaming for the rest of the afternoon. And, as Matthew pointed out, this doll sits squarely on the interstices between several things I like-- creepy, but glamorous, but antique, but unusual, etc, etc. And oh, that cap! Those bee-stung lips! Those heavily made up eyes! I have her on the top of my chifferobe in my bedroom now, and I'm telling you, four days later she is no less creepy or wonderful as she was on day one.

Interested in your own boudoir doll? The prices are high, but here are some of the neater ones I saw on Etsy this morning:
Boudoir Doll Sterling Co.Rare Beauty

Vintage boudoir doll, tattered elegance, beautiful face
Sterling Co Boudoir Doll Dressed in White Satin 
Collectible Antique Sterling Co.Boudoir Doll Angelina

What do you think? Could you bear to have such a thing in your home? I'm remembering shades of people's reactions to the-Charlie-McCarthy-doll-that-got-away I posted a few months ago, and thinking that human-like creepy dolls from the early twentieth-century might not be for everyone, but they sure are for ME! Do you like the well maintained ones or the slightly-broken-down versions better? Any creepy dolls lurking around your childhood bedroom when you were little? Do tell!

That's all for today...I'll see you guys back here tomorrow (provided the evil spirits I've obviously invited into my home don't carry me awaaaay.....)!

PS: Check out this great article on 1920's boudoir dolls made to look like your favorite silent movie stars! They had me at "a flapper favorite". WANT. SO. BAD.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Weekend Finds: Dress-apalooza!

Good morning, folks!

Well, as soon as I made a big to-do about all the progress I'd made about cleaning out my closet, would you believe that I went right back to the business of filling it back up this weekend? GUYS. I found SO. MANY. DRESSES this weekend. I was trying to be good, but the waves of good luck rolling my way....well, what can you do.

Wanna see the loot?

This red and black dress initially looked like something from a late nineties' department store prom offering, but as I inspected it more closely at my beloved Phoenix Flea Market, it is much older. I'm thinking early fifties' on the outside, and maybe earlier! The red material of the dress is a taffeta kind of thing with hand embroidered black flowers all down the bodice, trailing to a lace hem that has a suitably wrecked-in-some-places romantic disrepair to it. I carried it around the store for the duration of our shopping experience, as it was one of the first things I saw walking it, and then pulled the trigger on it just as we were leaving. If I can find some kind of dress shields or protective-to-perspiration covering for it, I might wear this to my friend's wedding in Texas next month. I bought one other crazy thing there on Saturday, but it really deserves its own post. You'll see soon enough! Doesn't the back of it smack of Edwardian fashion, with the tiny little train (I need to wear the proper kind of underskirt with this, but you get the idea)?

Eartha and I went to pick up our vintage consignment stuff leftovers on Sunday, and danged if Melissa (one of the co-owners of Family Tree) didn't let us shop the other vendor's leftovers before we left! Temptation, get behind me. While I didn't make any kind of a dent in the profit from the sale (guys! I've got more than enough money to buy a high end vacuum! DREAMS DO COME TRUE), you know I would be the one to pick up something, and I did. Two dresses and hat. Dress #1:

This is a late-seventies'-does-early-forties' hankerchief dress, by which I mean the main two components are these huge, triangular overlays that drape oh-so-prettily at the shoulders and hip, and are both embellished with a hand-painted looking pair of hibiscuses. I love the color, I love the flowers, I love the hankerchieves-- and most of all, I love the back! Look at the deep, dipped V and ignore my crooked hair part. We love it!

I have an almost embarrassing thing for Mary Poppins or Eliza Doolittle style fifties' hats-- this one even came with a little elastic chin strap to affix said hat to my oversized head. Win! Also, I went into Target the other day to buy tights and this freaking BOWIE SHIRT was in the women's department. While I'm not cuckoo about the shape of it, it was impossible to leave without buying it. 1974 was the year he was doing publicity for the upcoming Young Americans album, and he looked like this on the Dick Cavett show. LORD, LORD, LORD. I wear this shirt with pride.

Dress #2, which Melissa deemed "Russian glam" and Eartha deemed...well, a two piece polyester number in emerald green. Even though it's from the seventies', it so reminds me of something Barbara Stanwyck would wear in the forties' if the hem were only about a foot higher. The long sleeved jacket gives way to a pretty, strappy, slim and fitted to the bust column maxi dress, but what you really want to look at is the collar of the jacket.


I swanned out of the makeshift dressing room in the back of the Nolensville Road store doing my best tsarina walk, and was met with mirth, to say the least.Turns out, the feather detail is actually framing a HOOD you can add to your ensemble at your own discretion. Again, it looks perfectly normal with the hood down, but look at it with the hood up! What is happening! I don't understand life anymore (I am so wearing this first chance I get).

Last but not least, from my favorite dealer in the antiques shed at the flea market this weekend, a dream of a yellow and grey checked dress from the fifties'. Are you seeing this collar? Ten bucks, and not a mark on it (except for that of quality!). I bought a sea-shell lamp and a bakelite pin of an alligator, but I'm most in love with this dress. And how in the second of these pictures, I am making the exact same expression as in some of my grade school photos. 

Well, there you go! Did you guys find any super finds at the sales this weekend? How's your closet doing in terms of wild and out (possibly feather hooded?) ensembles? Let's talk!

That's all for today, but I'll see you guys back here tomorrow!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Photo Friday: With Love, From Rosemary Edition

Good morning!

Well, kiddos, we made it through another working week. As it's Friday, you know I've had my nose to the Flickriver grindstone in order to find you the very best in other-people's-family-photos, and as always, the internet does not disappoint in yielding up its share of black and white treasures! This flickr stream, posted by the titular Rosemary's daughter, is just an adorable look into life as a little kid in the 1930's in Toledo, OH. I was taken not only by how pretty the girl's mom was, but how each photo felt like a still from a movie about people I'd like to know, eighty some odd years past.

Let's take a look! First off, the twelve year old of the hour, Rosemary:

Isn't she just a tiny Myrna Loy? I do not throw around that compliment lightly! (Sidenote: In her autobiography, Being and Becoming, Loy mentions a conversation she had in the forties' with a popular Hollywood plastic surgeon to-the-stars, and was surprised to learn that her profile was one of the most frequently cited examples of what the "after" should look like in candidates for rhinoplasty. She has the perfect nose!) These photos, taken in a photo booth with a backdrop of spurious looking spruces, just knocked me dead in the eye with how how natural a beauty the girl is, even in her preteen years! It should also be noted that I really, really want to do rag curls if I ever cut my hair shorter, and try for the ringlet-like consistency of this Shirley Temple 'do. It'd be worth the pain of sleeping on my own tautened scalp to look like a movie star!

Two of Rosemary's sisters, Betty Ann and Dorothy, respectively, make their own photo booth appearances. I love that even though the photos are only chest up, you can see all these wonderful details on their clothes! The gold necklace and tailored collar of the outfit on Betty Ann (possibly a school uniform pinafore over that starched blouse?), and the hat, the crown shaped brooch, the pretty embroidered collar, and the checked over coat of Dorothy's ensemble. We want in on these outfits, stat!

Yet another sister, Norma Jane or "Normie", shows that style and china doll good looks run ALL THE WAY though the sisters in this family, with her appliqued cardigan and V-rolled hair. Look at the rhinestone brooch at her neck! I AM COPYING THIS LOOK TO THE LETTER. In the photo to the right, Normie wears another thirties' outfit fit for Irene Dunne (high praise) as she attends Rosemary's first communion (she's the tyke in the veil). Isn't it interesting there's such a spread of years on the siblings? Coming from a two-child household, it always slightly blows my mind when I think of my great-grandmother's six sisters (all named after stones...Goldie, Jewel, Ruby...and one brother, the improbably named Clyde!) or someone else's grandparents' ten PLUS siblings. It must really be something to grow up with enough family that you could play a decent game of kickball or capture the flag without even having to press the neighborhood kids into service.

Doesn't she look tiny and adorable in her all white clothes for the communion?

"Wrasslin'", as we say down South, with the family dog. "Quit tormentin' that dog!" I can hear my grandmother calling from inside the back door of the house, as Sus and I play a game of "fakeout" with a whiffle ball and my cousin's husky in the backyard of my childhood, just like this, only years later. Do you see the clothes hanging on the porch?

Color! And what color it was! I am in love with the weird, slopped on pastels of these handcolored photos. I'll lament now as I've lamented before, why don't they do hand coloring any more! It's so much more expressionistic than realistic, and isn't that what I'm always shooting for?

CHILD. GIVE ME THAT COLLAR AND THAT HAT. Rosemary's cousin, Pat, inspires deep envy in my heart for her spattering of freckles and impeccable clothing choice. At right, Rosemary and childhood friend Patty show off skinned knees, roller skates, and adorable sack dresses. A bow in every hair, I say! A bow in EVERY hair!

Here's Patty and Rosemary a little older, taking a trip to the photo booth. Aren't their expression precious?

Last but not least, a group shot. Can you spot Rosemary in the striped dress, third from the left? Look at all the DETAILS on the clothing, and how every woman has her hair done "just so". No sloppy ponytails in this bunch! No last minute ballerina buns! I want to walk right through the negative and put myself in a place of pride in the back row. Of course, I'll have to do something with my hair first, but you'd better believe I have the clothes for the occasion! I love the two men at either side of this great gaggle of women in the family.

What do you think? Which thirties' fashion appeals to you the most? Do you have any family photos from this time period just bursting with sentimental charm? Wasn't Rosemary a little starlet in the making, if these photos are any proof?

You can see the rest of the stream here if you're interested. Each of them is so neat! And if this is your mother, thank you for letting me borrow her for a Friday post, what a cutie.

If you're in Nashville, don't forget to visit the Family Tree vintage clothing sale on Nolensville Road this weekend! Help Eartha and I liquidate some of our overstock vintage! Also, anybody hitting the flea market this weekend? I'm unexpectedly still in town, so be on the lookout for a beehive bobbing above the throngs of bargain hunters in search of MORE old clothes! :)

Have a great weekend, and I'll see you guys right back here on Monday!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Mondrian Wall of Your Dreams (1954)

Good morning! 

Whoooo wee, do I have a dream of a room coming atcha from 1954. Pull up your socks, folks...this one is for serious:

Do you love it or do you LOVE it? The turquoise chaise...the boxy, low lines of the goldenrod chair and matching couch? The accent red-seated desk chairs to the far background? Besides these obvious mid century touches, I think what intrigued me most was the choice of picking up the brown and burnt reddish hues of the built in fireplace with the beige of the wall paneling, lamp shade, and especially that Navajo rug. I was in love at first sight. When do we get to move in? 
Those curly cue bar stools are giving me fits. STOP. BEING. SO. ADORABLE.

This October 1954 issue of Life, at the tail end of a special section on modern homes, presents a room put together by architect John Hancock Callender and interior designer Melanie Kahane. But there's a twist! (Side note: I have been watching way too much Project Runway, and am waiting for "a twist" in even the most pedestrian of situations) This stylish, g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s den and kitchenette was built out of the family's existing 12 by 20 foot carport! Don't believe me? Here's the before and afters for reference. I am really impressed:

Then again, Callender was the editor for the original 1947 architectural staple Time-Saver Standards for Architectural Design: Technical Data for Professional Practice, so I guess he knew a thing or two before he began about making something spectacular from something so ordinary. At only 440 square feet, there's still a great deal of use going on here! Below, you can see the layout along with a picture of the Robinsons, the family who's going to benefit from all the sleek modernity and efficiency. Look at Mrs. Robinson's travel-stamped circle skirt and t-strap sandals...cute!

I think it really says something about the 1950's homeowner that they would be more apt to think in terms of how they could convert their current living space into even more living space, instead of insisting upon moving or, worse, wallowing in the hopelessness of "never having enough space". By rethinking what they already have, and bringing in an expert to show them how to do it right, they can actually have a whole other "half a house" in a space that was previously just cluttered with junk to the point that Mr. Robinson couldn't even park his car all the way in the garage! It's really kind of inspiring.

What cost $5,000 in 1954 would cost $42,115.05 in 2012. Good NIGHT! So it's actually a little more expensive than what I would have thought, but still. Now the house is honest-to-goodness worth  at least that much more in its retail value, because you could turn your old dining room into a bedroom, or your old rec room into a master suite.

You haven't even seen the best part yet. Did I lie to you in this post's title? Did I deceive you into thinking there would be something in this post that there was not? I did not, folks! BEHOLD:

OH! MAN! MAN. Are you seeing this?! While at first, I thought it was a cutesy nod to Piet Mondrian's famous abstract compositions, it turns out, it's even more! (Side note: Did you know that Mondrian's abstractions actually date as far back in his work as the 1920's? It always takes my breath away to see something like that, so solidly identifiable with the fifties', actually having a much earlier origin. Can you imagine how FRESH this style would have been in 1920? He and Frank Lloyd Wright, I think, get inspiration straight from the Xenutians)

IT SLIDES OUT INTO ALL OF THIS. The panels are the kind you tap to open, and swing out to a number of conveniences. You coulda knocked me over with a feather. Are you seeing all this? Records storage, projector, television, dressmakers form and sweing notions....EVEN A TOY TRAIN TRACK FOR JUNIOR. Oh, it is actually the living end, this storage unit. Sadly, it cost $1,500 to make in 1954, which pegs it as $12634.51 in 2012...but maybe if I take up carpentry tomorrow, I might be able to swing something...

Designer Kahane is featured on this blog, with scans of different rooms she did over her multi-decade career...her sense of color is just spot ON. I can't think of a room I liked as much since forties' inspirations of mine, Dorothy Draper and William Haines. I've got to look into her work some more and get back with you guys!

You can read the original article here...and again, if you have a garage and forty-two grand to throw around, this very same set up could be yours! I sigh a sigh of ages.

What do you think about the previously-a-carport space above? What would you do in your own home the same or differently? Have you seen any great interior design feats that just really motivated you to start rethinking your space? Any colors or swatches that really catch your eye and fire your imagination lately? Let a girl know!

That's all for today...see you guys tomorrow for Photo Friday!


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