Thursday, October 7, 2010

"To the Moon, Alice!" Spaceships in the Kitchen?

When the Future Was in the Stars
M Y   C O L L E C T I O N — Buying a Rocketship to Saturn? Nope, behold a sales piece for a series of, drum roll please, gas ranges for your kitchen. Yes, this very mid-century futuristic rocketship, blasting our of the atmosphere on the way to the planet Saturn in the background, is the cover for a promotional piece for Suburban Hardwick gas ovens. The piece folds out to 8 sheets this size, with the cover cleverly folding over the inner 7 to "lock" them in place. I believe this came with my grandmother's stove, one of the ones pictured inside is exactly the same as the one in her kitchen when I was growing up. By the way, the ovens pictured inside were absolutely normal in design and appearance. This rocketship theme extended only so far as the cover, and a few strategically placed pale blue stars superimposed over each oven's description.

I'm a HUGE fan of Mid-Century Modern, the term for industrial design/architecture/furniture produced from the late Thirties through the the mid Sixties. This cover design, which I believe was produced in 1957, is an excellent example. It pointed to an optimistic future, one that had nowhere to go but up. The collective feeling was one of exhuberance, especially after the Second World War. We were racing to space. we were never going to fight another war, we were moving to the suburbs, enjoying the good life after years of going without. Designers of all sorts had free rein to create "far out" products and merchandizing pieces. The late Fifties fabulous finned wonders from Detroit were perfect examples. I think we could use a bit of this group-think optimism in this world today.

• For a bit of humor, here's the opening theme to the Jetsons, with a bit of a twist thanks to Seth McFarlane of Family Guy.
• For a trip down Memory Lane, this 10-minute clip of The Honeymooners.


  1. Good morning all! Casey, I wonder if it is our "age group" but I ADORE mid-century modern as well! The homes, the furniture (ah, the lamps and sofas!) the textiles (love a good "boomerang" pattern! :)
    I agree, we COULD use some of that optimism today!

  2. I think that was the same time when futuristic super hero's like Flash Gordon and sci-fi stories were broadcasted on the radio. Orsen Wells has a show that was very believable and people thought the world was coming to an end.

    That was the age of imagination and pure creativity.

    BTW, I believe Superman was created by a holocaust survivor who needed all the hope in the world for a better future in the 30's. The golden S derived from the golden star placed on the clothes of those headed to death camps.
    Sorry for ruining the

  3. Woody: Not a downer at all, I haven't heard that theory before. It's fascinating.

  4. The comments brought to mind watching designer Marc Newson on the Charlie Rose show last week. He made a comment about design being futuristic and as a kid in the 60/70's dreaming about the future. That the future is now here and that the 'future' is different now and less optimistic. This interview can be seen on Hulu, which aired on Charlie Rose October 1, 2010.