13 January 2010

House & Home: Outdated Interior Design Books

Before I get this post off and running, I'd like to thank our man Brad of the cool new(ish) blog Commerce with a Conscience. Brad writes about ways to stay fashion conscious and well dressed while not giving in to the unethical practices so prevalent in today's retail world. If you haven't already, you should read him. He recently asked me to write a guest post on thrift shopping, for which I am flattered. Thank you, Brad. Read my article here.

So, on to the matter at hand. I've mentioned before that Mrs. G. and I have a somewhat unreasonable fondness for the early 1970's when it comes to home decor. This extends beyond mere furniture into the realm of published design advice. Outdated, sure, but there are nuggets to be had. Here are three books worth picking up, should you be fortunate enough to stumble across them:

The "Better Homes and Gardens Decorating Book" is one of those old rig-binder numbers, kind of like the old "Betty Crocker Cookbook". Published in 1975, it is, to be sure, full of day-glo monstrosities. But the good outweighs the bad. Besides, if you do chance upon this tome, it will likely only cost a dollar or two, pittance really.

Highlights include rooms like this, where Steelcase conference chairs mingle with a classic modernist lamp. The paint may be a bit much, but all that furniture would be damn hot in a pale orange room with a hard wood floor, right?

High definition be damned, it will be a cold day in Hell before I hang some flat t.v. on my wall. I say we bring back the console. Up with t.v. as furniture!
This little nook is designed specifically for listening to records...the vinyl kind. Included are a thick pile shag carpet and not one, but two, Eames easy chairs. The Playboy mansion never had it so good!

"High Tech", published in 1978, is a source book for using industrial products in home design. I found this excellent book in a box marked 'free' in someones trash years ago. What a score. The cool ideas in this book are too numerous to list, many of them strikingly modern despite this book being 32 years old. Highlights include:
I love to cook. The thought of having a restaurant level stove, complete with broiler, griddle and hood vent, is absolutely insane...especially in a New York apartment.

Do you need two rolls of toilet paper and an ashtray in your bathroom?
And since I am technically running a more-than-slightly-dorky menswear blog over hear...an actual closet with a dry cleaners carousel in it...every peacock's dream.

Lastly, a somewhat more well known classic, "The New York Times Book of Interior Design", from 1976.

The jammin' inspirations from this bible are too numerous to mention, so I'll just leave you with this: This rooms got me and Mrs. G. written all over it: modern paintings, a glass table, rough hewn pottery, mismatched pillows, a big plant...you name it.

The moral of the story?: the 1970's may have left us all with the bad taste of cheap cocaine and polyester in our mouths, but the furniture and home design had a surprising tendency to be rock solid. Go back and look it over...you might just be surprised.

16 comments:

David M. said...

back when i smoked, i would have loved that ashtray and double roll.

ADG said...

Is Cocaine cheap now? I could never afford it.

David V said...

The photo with the two Eames chairs was my bachelor pad in the 70's...well the one I had in my mind!

Pigtown-Design said...

You want 70's decor books? The free book place in baltimore has tons of them. just say the word (and the address) and i will send a case or two up to you!

Basseq said...

My parents have those Steelcase chairs. Holy crap: my parents are cool again.

Love the photo of the white shag and the Eames chairs.

David said...

For every era there's always some people that get it right. At least according to our individual ideals and not just fashion trends.

When I was a teenager my friend and I house-sat for his mom's boss. Their house resembled the record listening room. They actually did have two eames chairs, along with the whole le corbusier living room set and the noguchi table. And of course ample amounts of shag carpeting and custom paintings. I think I actually slept in the eames chair it was so comfortable. Definitely the coolest house I've ever been to.

I'm glad you shared this stuff, it's some great inspiration.

davidsl said...

good design is good design, no matter when it was done.

Young Fogey said...

The library/stereo room with the Eames chairs could be updated simply by getting rid of that awful shag carpet. Once that's gone, it's classic.

My dream piece from the 70s? Other than the Eames chair & ottoman, is a stylin' rotary phone. Man, I'd love to have one of those, the desktop model, with a shoulder cradle on the receiver so you can use it hands-free the old way.

In addition to orange, let's not forget another regrettable color from the 70s: avocado! My parents' kitchen was painted in avocado, and the flooring was off white with avocado and gold. They finally remodeled about 20 years ago, and the hardwood floors and oak cabinets look sooooo much better.

Keri said...

Hello G. I'm loving the retro photos. Amazing. Great blog, fun to read. I love all things black & white. my blog is all about that. Come and see me some time. I'd be flattered to have you as a visitor/follower too. Keri (a.k.a. Sam) www.blackandwhitesite.com

Carol said...

I, too, adore 70s decor books and I love, love, love my copy of Hi-Tech!

It is a brilliant combination of the most excellent and the most zany. My favourite piece of the latter is the styrofoam kitchen on page 153. Very bad photograph here. So amazingly impractical!

Anonymous said...

Ugh... Someone spent all the money on Eames Chairs and shag; those KLH Model 17 speakers were sonically unremarkable. And tucked into the bookcase like that? Strictly a rig for Mantovani and the Longines Symphonette.

Also - I only spot one ottoman for the two chairs. Was the idea that you'd play footsie with someone while you played records and sipped your harvey wallbangers?

Cyclo2000 said...

The Hi Tech book was my bible when I got my first flat. I'd no money at all so everything was salvage or freebies that got cut up and industrialised. The HiFi was on Dexion shelving and the chairs came out a Dentists waiting room...the coffee table was a Bass Cabinet with 2 12" bins in it and a sheet of glass over the top. My telly (rented) sat on an old Marshall combo. I couldn't afford a bed so I slept on a futon which sat on 4 old pallets.
It looked great. Thank fuck it's over though.

Dennis Cahlo said...

That ashtray/tp holder has DON DRAPER written all over it.

Anonymous said...

It is happiness!

Anonymous said...

Very amusing opinion

bed frames said...

That living room looks like my grandmas living room. I thought she was telling me a joke when she tells that she finds that design on the internet. Now I know that my grandma is more updated than me.