Tag Archives: mid century modern

My New Favorite Martex Design

Look familiar?  If you’ve been reading The Vintage Traveler for a month, then you’ll recognize this Martex design from a earlier post where I showed a modern dress that used a modified version of a Mid Century Martex print found on a linen towel.  I was delighted to get the same towel, but in blue in the mail the other day.

It was a gift from Mod Betty of Retro Roadmap, who had found the dress that sparked my original post.  Sometimes I think I ought to put Mod Betty (along with a few others who are always sending great leads my way) on the payroll.  But then I remember that there is no payroll, so MB ends up getting paid the same as I do.

I find the current obsession with mid 20th century design to be interesting, and a bit amusing.  Being born in 1955, I was surrounded with “modern” design.  When a generation that had not been as exposed to this design rediscovered it ten or fifteen years ago, I thought it a bit odd.  What was so commonplace to me looked fresh and exciting to their eyes.  And I can see that they were right.

I can’t see myself living in a house surrounded by the artifacts of my childhood, but I look at the Mid Century houses of so many of my online friends and I can easily see the appeal of the style.  I realize that I was very lucky to grow up surrounded by good design.  Well, except for the lamps, and I’m sorry, but the Fifties and Sixties saw the birth of some mighty ugly lamps.

I bet there is a black version of this one.


When  it comes to textile design, I really think that the designers of the 1940s through 60s were at the top of the game.  The simplicity of these Martex towels say “Cocktail Time” without the overly cutesy-ness of similar designs being made today.

Thanks so much, Beth!


Filed under Collecting, Curiosities, Novelty Prints

California Design 1930-1965

California Design - Living in a Modern Way

I’d love to be able to say that these are MY photos and I was the one who got to see this exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, but the lucky museum-goer was Mod Betty, the writer and keeper of Retro Roadmap, a site devoted to mid 20th century wonderfulness.  She has kindly agreed to let me share some of her trip with you, and you can head over to her site for a few more photos.

The show includes over 300 objects of mid 20th modern design,  including clothing, furniture, and graphic design.  Looking at this I’m simply amazed.  I mean, I grew up with this sort of design and simply took it as the way the world looked, and here we are now seeing that the Wonder Bread wrapper was a work of art!

Calderesque Light, Wonder Bread Graphic

Living Room

I know that this looks like a corner of Don and Megan Draper’s apartment, but it is actually a tableau at the exhibit.  I’ve got to wonder how much of the current interest in Mid-century Modern is attributable to Mad Man.  Or perhaps Matthew Weiner thought about the resurgent interest in the early 1960s and realized people were hungry for a view into that lifestyle.

California Clothing

All the clothes (but not the accessories) in the exhibit were made in California.  I don’t have the information on that dress or jumpsit, but isn’t it something?  The jeans are 1930s Levis and it and the satin rodeo shirt are borrowed from the Levis Archive.   The flowered swimsuit is from Cole of California, and the color-blocked one is a 1928 suit from Catalina.

Swoon Bathing Suit & California Knitwear Rudi Gernreich

On the left is the famous 1940s “Swoon Suit” designed by Margit Fellegi of Cole of California.  It was designed with strings that the wearer could adjust to the correct size, and so no elastic nor zipper was necessary, thus saving rubber and metal for the war effort.

The dress and suit are by Rudi Gernreich.

California Clothing 2

Patio clothes!  Left to right:  De De Johnson playsuit with skirt, Louella Ballerio playsuit with skirt, Levi Strauss bra and pants, Cole of California by Margit Fellegi bathing suit with skirt, Joseph Zukin of California playsuit.

California Clothing 3

Swimsuits, left to right:  Rudi Gernreich, Mary Ann DeWeese lobster suits, Cabana set, unknown, and another stunner from  Cole of California by Margit Fellegi.

Stylish Stereo

And this one is not clothing but I had to include it.  I love this idea for displaying record album covers.  The thrifts are full of covers with outstanding graphics, so this would be fairly easy to duplicate.

If you are in southern California, get your act together and go see this before it ends on June 3, 2012.  And a big thanks to Betty for the use of her outstanding photos.

Photos copyright Beth Lennon.


Filed under Museums