• Stuck on Colorforms, the Two-Dimensional Toy Beloved By Mid-Century Modern Kids One of the most cherished myths about children is that they possess incredible imaginations. Put a child on the floor in front of a pile of blocks, this magical thinking goes, and she will assemble veritable Roman Aqueducts and Towers of Babel, making the efforts of most adults look, well, like child’s play. "We had Eames furniture, of course. Who didn’t?" In fact, psychologists have long know…
  • From Retail Palace to Zombie Mall: How Efficiency Killed the Department Store The once-vibrant shopping mall has one foot in the grave these days. About 20 percent of the 2,000 largest U.S. malls were failing in 2008, and by 2012, only 1,513 remained in operation. Current numbers predict more than 200 existing big malls will collapse in the next 10 years. Search the phrase, “dead malls,” and you’ll find photo after photo of tiled walkways littered with debris, untended plan…
  • Mr. Chemex: The Eccentric Inventor Who Reimagined the Perfect Cup of Coffee As part of our modern obsession with artisan-everything, today's pickiest coffee drinkers insist upon a hand-brewed cup made right before their eyes. At the cornerstone of this trend is the undisputed king of pour-over coffee, the Chemex Coffeemaker, which graces the counters of hip homes and cafes around the globe. But this ingenious device is nothing new: In fact, the Chemex company has been mak…
  • Paper Wizard: Mid-Century Modern's Unsung Visionary Gets His Due When you think of 1950s Atomic Age design, a handful of images probably pop into your mind: The Ball Clock. The Marshmallow Sofa. The Sunburst Clock. What you probably don’t realize is that the designer of these Mid-Century Modern icons spent decades living in obscurity, filling his upstate New York farmhouse with 300-some whimsical handmade paper sculptures of animals, Pre-Columbian and Southeast…
  • Make Me Mod! Top 10 'Mad Men' Essentials With the return of "Mad Men" to AMC this Sunday, Sterling Cooper’s attractive staff will raise the bar for contemporary cubicle-dwellers for the fifth season in a row. Along with the show’s cast, we’ll be thrown into the turbulence of 1966, when neon-colored plastic and the ubiquitous Twiggy kicked Mid-Century Modern to the curb. No doubt the characters will weather radically shifting social norms…
  • Kem Weber: The Mid-Century Modern Designer Who Paved the Way for IKEA When most people think of Mid-Century Modern, they conjure images of kidney-shaped coffee tables, boomerang-patterned lampshades, and wall clocks that explode in starbursts and other radiating designs. But in the 1930s, long before Mid-Century Modern was the definition of cool in Madison Avenue corner offices and Palm Springs living rooms, an architect and designer named Kem Weber was helping defi…
  • 'Mad Men' Prop Master Scott Buckwald Explains How He Re-Creates the '60s I always wanted to work in film, but I didn’t have anybody in my family who worked in the film business. I’ve been a major movie buff since I was a child, and I’ve always been very meticulous. I’ve always been a collector. The Beatles are definitely my main thing, but my wife and I collect old metal lunch boxes and I’ve always just been good at holding onto things. I have a fairly nice collecti…
  • Eames, Nelson, and the Mid-Century Modern Aesthetic As a teenager, I collected everything from vintage bicycles to Coca-Cola to Victorian stuff. Once I realized some of this stuff contained concepts of art and design, I started looking for vintage objects that also represented art or design movements that could hold my interest. I ran across Art Nouveau and then Art Deco and then Arts and Crafts and then streamline modern. Visually it all led up to…
  • Mid-Century Modern Furniture, from Marshmallow Sofas to Hans Wegner Chairs Mid-century Modern used the technology of mass production to produce good-looking pieces of furniture out of the latest materials. A number of these materials became commonplace after World War II, so the idea was to make things affordable. These were not “custom-made pieces.” When you bought a Tiffany lamp, even though that was a production piece in its day, it was also a handmade piece that cost…