Design in the 1950s

Essay by pippymazCollege, Undergraduate September 2004

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The 1950s was a time when architecture, design and theories were contested as people felt that the post war era should embrace mass culture and the advance technologies. Prior to the Second World War American designers looked to Europe for their inspiration and style, however Eames was the first designer to work in a specifically American style. Eames invented a method for bending plywood into complicated curves.

A founder of feminine post war design was Christian Dior. The creator of the new look fashions emphasised the hourglass figure of the female by focusing on a pronounced bust, a slender waistline and curvaceous hips.

By 1950 millions of Second World War veterans had married and settled down in suburbia. Women were expected to stay home and take care of the children, while the husband earned enough money to support the family. The 1950s mother belonged in the kitchen. Her duty was to serve her family only the highest quality foods.

Kitchen and cleaning appliances like washing machines and fridges were advertised as being 'every woman's dream'. Women accepted their place in the kitchen and looked for ways to make their lives in the kitchen easier, since having ample leisure time was a symbol of high society. The feminine taste became extremely important in the marketplace with the mass production of new colours and patterns and contemporary style. It was the first time women could identify with the material culture.

The 1950s saw a consumer boom across Europe and the United States. There was a growth of interest in goods made of modern material, which were signs of a new lifestyle. "Architecture and design benefited from new applications of wartime research, from state-of-the-art materials and methods of construction. New materials such as plastic laminates, fibreglass and latex foam shaped the look of...