Feb 1, 2012

A Break from the Present

My mom says the 70's were boring.  I don't know.  Looks like that guy with the moustache lacking irony, with the hot chick drinking gin & tonic's midday on the back of a hay truck are anything but boring. 

I think my love of mid century period spurs from a fascination with our society's abandonment of the traditional model of everything during this period.  How does this...

Grace Presbyterian Church - Calgary (1912: Gothic Revival) (Sean Perrin)
Change to this...

St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, Calgary (1968-69 - Expressionist)

What happened to our society that made us rethink an entirely new way to live, eat, pray? Burn our bras? Protest wars. Sit wherever we want on the bus? Colour our hotels butter yellow?
Holiday Inn - 8th Ave Downtown Calgary (Delcampe.com)
Modernism in the west began in earnest after the Second World War. And the initial rolling out of post war mortgage and educational programs, suburban development, embracing this new modern aesthetic were accomplished with military precision. The generations who lived and experienced a prolonged period of wars and depression (1913 to post WWII) probably yearned for a break from this past.  But despite an embrace of modern in the early 1950s, there was an undercurrent of entrenched traditionalism and conservatism. A lot of women didn't work after marriage.  

But it was the next generation in the 60' and 70's, who really shook things up with music, sex, drugs. And architecture was radical and experimental and expressed a cataclysmic shift in values of a society who were eager to formally break from the past and redefine a new future. 

A perfect hyperbolic paraboloid roof - Waikikian Hotel Lobby, 1960s (Sourced from a Flickr group on hyperbolic paraboloid roofs - amazing)
We lived in a condo for a few years downtown Vancouver and when we moved in, one of our friends gave us an interior design magazine for apartment dweller from the 1970s as a housewarming gift. 

What really strikes me about the following images from the issue is how the 'radical' was so mainstream.  And what a stark contrast with our society today (which, when you think about it, has really reverted back to this conservatism the previous generation had fought so hard to shake off).  Can you imagine a  key party spread set in a bedroom in Dwell?  It seems absurd. Yet, there's an overtone comfort and connection in these images that seems to be lacking today. 

And what?  

Look at those goofy  plates. And the lobster on a bed of grapes. 

Imagine this image in today's interior design context - complete with the stoned guy with the Puerto Rico t-shirt and rainbow window art? 

Every image contains some combination of moustaches, booze, sex, feasts or cigarettes (for my fellow gardener bloggers).

This time the alcohol matches the couch.  



Sandi Ratch said...

LOVE it! The '70s look so fun!

Unknown said...

your picture of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, Calgary is in fact what was St. Andrews United Church and is now Springs Church. St. Andrews Presbyterian Church is further East on Heritage Drive.

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