Thursday, June 3, 2010

mid mod inspiration

You may be asking yourself what the heck a post office in backwoods North Carolina has to do with our fabulous new quilt bee (I'm so darn excited!!!). It's a good question, and it has to do with inspiration. See, I think I do have some understanding of the mid-century modern design aesthetic, but I've been looking for inspiration (already planning for my month, of course!) and I'm having trouble finding the exact right source. There's a lot out there in terms of mid-century modern architecture (see said post office; inspired mini quilt to follow!) and furniture, and I'm actually kind of interested to think about how that might translate to quilts. But I'm not finding textile-related things. Anyone else?


  1. Sounds like we are on the same thought path. While I think mid century modern furniture is fun, it is the architecture that really grabs me. I haven't yet figured out how to translate that to a quilt either. More research and lots of thinking in my future!

  2. I have found very few textile references except for two designs by Ray Eames: one that looks like jacks and one that is Xs and blocks.

    My early guess as to why is that not much patterned fabric was being produced with new patterns. I'm not sure how accurate Mad Men is, but they seem to favor solids (really interesting, rich, textured solids). This is in keeping with my understanding of the time immediately following WW2: America's economy benefited from the war, but Europe's did not, so American prosperity was tempered by a new solidarity with suffering Europe. As such, Americans favored gorgeous, well made, high quality clothes that were not flashy. Exquisite, but subdued. Meanwhile, art is taking off in exciting new directions. Also, during the war, people had learned a lot about how to make building and furniture with different materials (depending on what was available and what was rationed), so new possibilities open up there as well.

    I'm trying to find a book that will tell me if I'm right about this. It's a very specific question, though: what was up with American textile design 1945-1955? And textile consumption? And in other parts of the world?

    A couple of things I find fun and inpirational to look at:

    I picked up this book at a used shop and am loving it.
    John Pile. The Dictionary of 20th Century Design.

    Also, if you haven't looked through Retro Kid on flickr, you have to check it out.

    It's the second-best group on flickr. ::wink, wink::


  3. this may be off base but you might what to investigate with some Scandinavion desgin books or google searches.

    The other night we were watching Mad Men and I made my husban pause it so I could take a picture of a wall so I could turn it into a quilt...

    Three od my favorite MCM books for inspiration are:
    Atomic Ranch by Michelle Gringer Brown
    'Contemporary' by Lesley Jackson (some textiles)
    Scandinavian Design by Eileene Harrison Beer

    Have fun! I'm super jealous of this bee and will be stalking, I mean following along.

  4. The other thing with the architecture of the period is the use of line, particularly on the horizontal. I find this captivating. Heck we designed our new fence on the horizontal just to capture this notion.

  5. Thanks for sharing your info, everyone. I can't wait to see the inspired designs that will surely come out of this bee!

  6. Have you tried looking up barkcloth fabric? Hawaiian/tiki-themed designs were popular in the 50s. Google it.