Everything was just right. Everything that was meant to mix or line up did so and did so right on time and then…the birth of cool in America bloomed into existence. Like an old winter coat we heaved off the stodgy way to live and wrapped our lives in a spring jacket of fresh ideas that was sewn with everything from art to architecture. From industry to the home everything was re-imagined and re-designed. America was experiencing a cultural enlightenment / revolution and nothing was spared. In the 1960’s the art world gave us talented creators like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. In the mid 1950’s Architects like Frank Lloyd Wright would give us the beautiful Guggenheim museum in NYC. In 1962 Eero Saarinen gave us the Dulles International Airport in Northern VA. While 10 years earlier Mies van der Rohe delivered the McCormick House residence in Elm Hurst Illinois. And of course those modern offices and homes sported great furniture designed by the likes of Paul McCobb, Herman Miller, Adrian Pearsall, and Florence Knoll.
These artists and architects are only a few of the many who contributed to the enlightenment. Fashion, advertising, aviation, electronics and automobiles all benefited from the movement as well.
Unfortunately, for whatever reason the bloom on this flower of enlightenment began to fade as time marched toward the early 1970’s. Was it Nixon taking us off the gold standard? Was it imports from Hong Kong and China? Maybe it was the Vietnam War or the breakup of the Beatles! None the less, the heartbeat of the movement flat lined for the next 30 years. The art and architecture of the period lay dormant. Some of it became invisible and quite a bit of it was torn down and or thrown out. So as the movement lay idle for the next 30 years we suffered Watergate, Disco, Abscam, gas lines, high interest rates, recessions and the early days of terrorism.
Ironically the dread and bad habits of the past 30 years were instrumental in the resurrection of some of the elements, some of the dynamics of the beautiful movement. Unfortunately the majority of the creators of this enlightenment have since passed away and as a result we only have a limited live inventory from that moment in time. I want to believe, I do believe that the success of the resurgence is due to the honesty and purity of the designs and the high prices these treasures fetch today back up my belief.
The heart of it all still beats.