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Contemporary: Architecture and Interiors of the 1950s

Lesley Jackson

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ISBN 10: 0714831840 / ISBN 13: 9780714831848
Published by U.S.A.: Phaidon Inc Ltd, 1994
Condition: Near Fine Hardcover
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240 pg. Sewn binding with cloth over boards. 12" X 10". The next step from Modernist theorizing. First Edition. Bookseller Inventory # ABE-19111582105

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Contemporary: Architecture and Interiors of ...

Publisher: U.S.A.: Phaidon Inc Ltd

Publication Date: 1994

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Near Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


This book provides a full definition and examination of the so-called Contemporary style that dominated architecture and design from the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s. It was an era of optimism and confidence, where the new ideas in architecture and design flourished alongside - and were nurtured by - the emergent consumer culture. The Contemporary style was fresh and liberating, manifesting itself in the picture window and the open plan; in vibrant fabric design and printed wall coverings; in new forms of furniture from Scandinavia and stylish light fittings from Italy; and most tellingly in the Contemporary kitchen with its fitted units and mod con appliances. Far more than a collection of Fifties nostalgia, this book provides an entertaining and revealing survey of trends in taste and interior design at the time of economic regeneration that affected not only people's homes, but their communities and their public buildings.


In the years after World War II, the theory-laden modern movement blossomed into popular "contemporary" design. Le Corbusier and Levitt, Brussels and L.A. reinforced concrete and Formica--all became part of a trend towards sleek, functional, pared-down design. This excellent book could have been a compendium of '50s architectural and interior memorabilia, and therefore a success with nostalgia buffs (who will also love it), but it is far more than that. Lesley Jackson has written an intelligent, entertaining book on the intersection of life and design in the postwar era. Chapters include "The Birth of the 'Contemporary' Style"; "The House"; "The Interior"; "Decoration and Fittings"; "Furniture and Furnishings"; and "Society Goes 'Contemporary.'" Its scope is broad, beginning with a beguiling, campy advertising photo showing a housewife at cocktail time, poised in her powder-blue cocktail dress, and her husband, who is reaching into a sleek, chrome-and-Formica credenza, perhaps the home of their record player. The book ends with Brasília, the capital city built between 1956 and 1960 that brought Brazil to the verge of economic collapse. In between are colorful looks at the houses and furniture of Ray and Charles Eames; the early European proponents of modernism; Frank Lloyd Wright's seminal Fallingwater; the various uses of concrete, stone, brick, and other materials for texture and color; the melding of interior and exterior space; the fun colors of prototypical Marimekko fabrics; the early idealism of designing for "the masses"; and the now almost quaint social optimism from which the pervasive culture of materialism emerged. --Peggy Moorman

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