Friday, August 03, 2007

Design for Dreaming - The freeway fantasies of the 1950s

I first saw Design for Dreaming on a laserdisc of 1950s short films over a decade ago. I was more bemused than impressed. What the heck was this weird promotion film for GM Cars with a pixie-ish woman being whisked off to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel by a masked stranger?

This was my first introduction to the charm of retro-culture. This film is silly, and somewhat sexist to boot, but it clearly captures the optimism of the 1950s. The cars are classics, especially the Corvette. The stainless steel kitchen with the bubble-domed oven echoes the sleek futurism that lives on in today's modern designs.

The girl and her magical guide ride off in a rocket car (sporting a tail-fin that belongs on the back of a shark) down a glitter-dusted freeway of the space age. The future highways are devoid of traffic jams and happy drivers smile from behind the wheels of atomic-powered luxury cars. After experiencing the depression and World War II, highways must have seemed like futuristic blessings to the adults of the 1950s.

Design for Dreaming
is remarkable for the 1950s for centering a vision of the future on a woman's dreams and desires. While she is still expected to toil in the kitchen, she also wants her own sports car.

The giddiness of Design for Dreaming is unforgettable. I still hear that Toooooooooomorrrrrrowwwwwwwwwww song in the back of my mind when I see designs for future electric cars.

I doubt those new cars will have fins.



I dedicate this post to my wife as we celebrate five years of marriage.

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