To me, in every time period, the predominant architecture of home design — that nest which protects us, where we raise our families, where personal expression and outlook seem most acute — provides a window into whom we are as a people, where our collective minds have set sight, and what future we might usher into reality.
During my formative years, America was noted for its modern home designs. This was a period where the home was redefined in an architectural vernacular that had never existed before, wasn’t a derivative of the past. We were jetting around the globe in new airliners, blasting off to the moon, wearing clothes and hairstyles expressing a bright future and vibrant individuality.
Like America, our homes expressed an optimistic view to the future. To be sure, most neighborhoods were still built for bourgeois tastes with a more conservative bent and traditional influence, but modern designs flourished in custom-made, speculative, and subdivision homes… as well as cutting across middle-class, well-to-do, and the wealthy classes.
Today, as with our times, the predominant trend has been the traditional… the cookie-cutter McMansion… the derivative design of a romanticized past… a bland expression that looks not toward a progressive future but baths in smugness… again, “in custom-made, speculative, and subdivision homes… as well as cutting across middle-class, well-to-do, and the wealthy classes.”
There was a time when in our housing…
- design was a extension of art
- design was for both wealthy and middle-class
- design was based upon a forward, positive viewpoint
- design was to symbolize advancing society
- design was an expression of sophistication
- design was an exploration of new boundaries
- design was to integrate with the environment and mature with it
Fortunately many of these homes still exist, though we tear them down regularly for the “new new” of the same-old same old.
My hope would be that modern home design can flourish again when our economy recovers, houses are built once again, and people might have learned that they are better off by envisioning a future that has not yet existed, when testing new bounds of progress is applauded and not derided.
So, let’s appreciate some classics of modern design houses from a period of American progress and strength.
Vista Las Palmas Mid-Century Modern Homes
Tour through the area of Vista Las Palmas in Palm Springs California featuring Mid-Century Modern architecture.
All Is Not Lost
Now, all of this is not to say that we have lost our mojo completely, nor to say that modernism has ceased to exist.
It is, though, meant to say that “by-and-large” we as an American people do not appreciate the mind-set and aesthetics of modernism, especially how it implies and stewards our future on cultural, scientific, risk-taking, entrepreneurial, and quality levels.