Livable Modernism: Interior Decorating And Design During The Great Depression (Yale University Art Gallery S)

Livable
  • Category: Hardcover
  • Author: Wilson, Kristina
  • ISBN 10: 0300104758 ISBN 13: 9780300104752Publisher: Yale University Art Gallery, 2004
  • Hardcover

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Synopsis About this title A fascinating look at how designers in the 1930s mixed avant-garde principles with middle-class taste and marketing savvy to generate a distinctly American streamlined aesthetic During the years of the Great Depression in America, modernist designers developed products and lifestyle concepts intended for middle-class—not elite—consumers. In this remarkable book, Kristina Wilson coins the term “livable modernism” to describe this school of design. Livable modernism combined International Style functional efficiency and sophistication with a respect for consumers’ desires for physical and psychological comfort. Wilson offers a new view of many popular designs for living rooms, dining rooms, and bedrooms of the 1930s and investigates the remarkable marketing savvy of the furniture and decorative arts companies of the day. As the first study of the advertising and retailing of modern design during the Depression years, Livable Modernism alsofeatures an extensive array of vintage advertisements from such popular magazines as House Beautiful and Ladies’ Home Journal. Engagingly written and handsomely designed, Livable Modernism is an essential book for anyone interested in modern furniture and decorative arts. The author demonstrates that the work of these designers—including Russel Wright, Donald Deskey, and Gilbert Rohde—paved the way for Charles and Ray Eames and other post-World War II designers, and that the importance of their philosophies, innovations, and influence has until now been underappreciated. "synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title. About the Author: Kristina Wilson is assistant professor of art history at Clark University. She formerly served as Marcia Brady Tucker Curatorial Fellow in American Decorative Arts at the Yale University Art Gallery. From Publishers Weekly: Studies of the Great Depression often focus on the extremely poor, so this readable and beautifully illustrated book on furniture design and decorative arts provides fresh insight into middle-class households during that era. Wilson’s topic is "livable modernism," or the combination of a simple and efficient modern design aesthetic with an understanding of the desires and needs of a middle-class consumer—"her possible insecurities and emotional desires, her physical comfort, her delight, and what it would take her to commit her own (or her husband’s) money." Each of three chapters—on living, dining and bedrooms, respectively—opens with a description of an object that serves as a touchstone for discussing the selling of modernism as a lifestyle. Readers accustomed to Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel catalogs will find the origins of modular furniture in the bookcases, desks and couches designed by Gilbert Rohde and Russel Wright. Many will be surprised to learn that the buffet party was a Depression-era invention, as were the whimsical serving dishes, advertisements and etiquette manuals created expressly to exploit this new phenomenon. Wilson also highlights a number of cultural and gender studies topics, including the 20th-century trend toward the "companionate marriage," which is built around friendship and partnership rather than patriarchy, and the way that traditional male/female gender roles were subconsciously promoted by the designs of vanity tables. The book accompanies an exhibition at the Yale University Art Gallery that will run until June 2005, and press surrounding that exhibit may bring even more readers to this intelligent and engaging book. 55 b&w and 58 color photos. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. "About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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