Mid Century Modern, Gothic Revival, what's the difference? both about some other time
Mid Century Modern never went away, every other cafe today is furnished with Arne Jacobson rip off chairs, they are ubiquitous. You rarely see a Norman Foster building without a generous helping of Eames. Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly buildings (Arne Jacobson again) both furnished in Scandinavian Mid Century Modern. And, not to forget … IKEA. Its total dependence on the design heroes in its recent past. People with optimism.
Really good design is definitely about now and its cutting edge should be about a future. Just like Mid Century Modern, in their case, post war optimism, a general belief in a much more egalitarian society and a wealth of new technical opportunities. What do we aspire to now?
Any kind of retro is something you do if you haven't got any better ideas.
Its not as if nothing has changed since 1953, the American Dream turns out to be a bit of a nightmare. Mid Century Modern was for a world of infinite growth, infinite resources and side-effects could be ignored, now of course we know that there are only effects, even when we would rather do without some.
What's so interesting about now is that few of the assumptions of mid 20th century stack up, not the economy, social justice or the environment, none are sustainable. So far it looks like the economy will collapse first, so things could be worse. There has rarely been a time when exploring different futures is more relevant. Design has an important part in filling our cultural vacuum.
Buckminster Fuller’s maxim, “doing the mostest with the leastist” is not a bad starting point for a world burdened with excessive consumption of its natural resources. Its elegant, sensual even and it's how nature works.
There are two kinds of design, one is driven by the making and the other by selling. The results are very different. Selling people rely heavily on imagery borrowed from the making of things. Mid century modern, Mini, Beetle, Fiat 500 being examples. It's everywhere.
When you come at it from making, you have a much better idea of the possibilities offered by the use the object is put to and how best to make it. The imagery looks after itself.
Design is a language, like poetry or music, and is only good when you have something to say, and understand the craft of making it.