20 January 2009


The 1970's as a concept are an easy target for ridicule. There's a lot to joke about: polyester, pornography, moustaches, cocaine, bombastic music, the list goes on. But let's not forget that the 70's, like any decade, gave us some good things too, things that are great because they were made in the 70's. One of the best contributions of this era, in my personal opinion, was the popularity of all things in a rusty orange color:

The Stromberg/Carlson wall mounted rotary phone, a birthday gift from Mrs. G a few years ago.

This is the only land line phone in our house. Whenever I'm home, I only use this phone. Dialing it is a comforting act. You can hear it ringing from outside of the house. My favorite thing about is the short cord, only just long enough to sit down at the kitchen table while you talk. It forces you to slow down and pay attention to the call, and to only make calls when they are necessary. You know, the way phone calls should be.

Steelcase conference chair.

It's too bad we only have one of these. If I had five more I'd buy a big oval shaped oak table and use them in the dining room, maybe with manila folders as place mats.

My favorite mug for afternoon tea

This is usually how I'm feeling by the time I use this mug in the late afternoon, but after a cup of Prince of Wales tea with lemon and sugar I'm all better.

I believe that the 70's were the last period in American history where things were still "old fashioned". It was just before computers had made us collectively believe that everything should happen as quickly as possible and that things should become old before they even had a chance to be new. Things were still built to last and sold on longevity. This is some tough stuff. It's all so solid and heavy, really feels like something. And it all works like new. If a bomb fell on my house today, I could sort through the rubble and find this chair, then sit in it and drink a cup of tea while I make some phone calls. By comparison, the remote that came with our digital converter box stopped working within a week of purchase.

Everybody wants to be "green"these days, which is good, if a little annoying in its self-righteous trendiness. You all know that I'm greatly in favor of using all the old stuff that's lying around and repairing things when they break, but how about if we build new stuff well in the first place so that it doesn't require frequent replacement.

A little bit of that old built-like-a-rock style sensibility wouldn't hurt either.
p.s. Happy inauguration day, everybody! Finally, someone who's not an old white millionaire.


Anonymous said...

That phone is awesome.

Jean Martha said...

Love the phone & the mug (and the new Pres.!).

I think Zaborski's in Kingston, NY has more of your orange chairs.

Turling said...

Agreed. It's difficult to justify fixing the vacuum when a new one is cheaper. Plus, try and find repairmen these days.

Pigtown*Design said...

A lot of the 40's era phones that they're remaking these days are so uncomfortable to hold. These square ones are brilliant.

Anonymous said...

I wish I could convince my wife to keep a phone like that in our apartment. Our cordless phones barely work past 15'.

Giuseppe said...

I'd also like to get one of those old desk top models with the handle on the back and the extra long cord so I can pace around my desk dramatically while I talk, and then slam the reciever down hard in anger before taking a bottle of old Old Crow out of the bottom drawer....(too many old movies)

Cyclo2000 said...

Orange was (famously) Frank Sinatra's favourite colour. It's Frank's world you know....the rest of us just live in it.