Few men had such an influence on midcentury American design as Raymond Loewy.
The French-born industrial designer, who fought in World War I and started his American career as a window designer for department stores in New York, had his hand in everything from the design of the iconic Coca-Cola bottle to the livery of John F. Kennedy’s Air Force One.
Continue reading “The Designs of Raymond Loewy”
European countries generally welcomed American involvement after the Second World War. From the Marshall Plan to NATO, the United States was seen as a benevolent influence.
But American help came with a price. European governments were expected to keep the far left out of power, accept the rehabilitation of West Germany and curtail trade and other relations with the Soviet Union.
France took exception to being treated as an instrument of American foreign policy. Charles de Gaulle famously blocked Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community, believing it would be a Trojan horse for America. He refused to give up France’s independent nuclear deterrent and even pulled out of NATO’s integrated military structure in 1966.
Continue reading “De Gaulle’s Cold War”
Norman Bel Geddes was an American industrial designer and futurist who had a major influence on the streamlined Art Deco design of the 1930s and 40s.
Geddes started out as a theater set designer before opening his own industrial design studio in 1927. His early work included such consumer products as cocktail shakers and radio cabinets. He quickly moved on to more ambitious projects, including a teardrop-shaped car and the amphibian Airliner Number 4.
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Much of the Howard Hughes legend was well dramatized in the hit Hollywood film The Aviator (review here), starring Leonardo DiCaprio. With some alterations for narrative, the film was a great success and provided the viewer with a good understanding of Hughes and his eccentricities.
However, the film ends well before Hughes himself passed away in 1976 and left many details of his life uncovered.
Continue reading “The Aviator: The Life and Legend of Howard Hughes”
Howard Phillips Lovecraft was born into a rather wealthy New England family and enjoyed a comparably happy childhood. Comparably, because he was a sickly child, his health remained frail all his life and because his father died when he was five years old.
Lovecraft was also a prodigious child, capable of reciting short poems by 2 and able to read by 3 years of age.
This early ability to read later helped him to study on his own when illness prevented him from attending school for any length of time. His favorite book and main inspiration during his childhood was Arabian Nights, from which he would eventually draw the inspiration for one of his most famous characters: The mad Arab Abdul Alhazred, author of the dreaded Necronomicon.
Continue reading “Master of the Genre in Death: H.P. Lovecraft”
You sir, yes you. Take a look at your fine wardrobe and the styles you hold dear. Those of the elegant, refined, understated gentleman. A far cry from the powdered wigs and scented noblemen whose influence, without our Beau, would have dominated the fashions of Europe — and thus the world — for many years longer than they have done.
The 1700s were a time of wealth. On the continent and in Britain, the nobility showed its flare with ever greater demonstrations.
A prime example of this is the decadency of the French royalty in the guise of Louis XVI, who was advertised as such a tyrannical arch-degenerate that it cost him both his crown and his head to a revolutionary mob. (Despite his actual character as probably a fairly decent chap.)
From the gold-leaf extravagance of the Palace of Versailles to the towering powdered wigs of lords and ladies, the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were times of showing off, but this had always been the case. Ancient kings and emperors had worn their riches in full display. But the increasing wealth of the eighteenth-century aristocracy was so much flaunted that it was driving an ever-firmer wedge between rulers and their people.
Let us take a closer look at these pre-Brummell styles, before we meet the man himself.
Continue reading “Beau Brummell: The Most Stylish History Maker”