california design road trip

Events took us to the L.A. area earlier this month, and so it was a perfect opportunity to take in some of the museum exhibitions that are part of Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980. This massive project was initiated by the Getty Center and Getty Research Institute as a call to arms to gather and preserve archival material pertaining to post-war modern design, art and architecture in Southern California before it got scattered to the four winds. Go archives!

Destination #1 (and the top one on my list) on Sunday the 4th was the California Design, 1930-1965: “Living in a Modern Way” show at LACMA. Here’s a picture of the catalog, which is highly recommended:


I was a good boy and obeyed LACMA’s notice that photography was not allowed in special exhibition halls, so I left my groovy new Sony NEX-5N camera at home and don’t have any pictures of my own to post. It turned out that photography *was* allowed and the shutterbugs were going nuts in there. Oh well!

The show was not super huge but very dense and compact like a good double espresso. The show’s curators did a really great job of hitting all the iconic pieces and references you would expect (like Eames and Neutra) and at the same time covering less well-known creators like David Cressey and Olga Lee (whom some will know as Mrs. Milo Baughman).

One of my faves was a large vase by F. Carlton Ball:

carlton ball vase

There was a low chest by Mabel Hutchinson that was superb. Incredible Greta Grossman pieces included the iconic Grasshopper lamp along with a floor version of the Cobra lamp with shade and reflector. Great Grossman desk too.

Spent some quality time grooving (with my eyes only, of course) on this lounge chair by Arthur Espenet Carpenter:

espenet chair

There was a re-creation of the living room for the Eames Case Study House. Maybe because it was behind glass and off-limits it seemed a little sterile, which is the opposite of what I imagined the Eames’ living room to be like. Or maybe it was the fake plants. In any case it was cool to see but not really a highlight for me.

When you stop and think about the range of the show (furniture! ceramics! architecture! fashion! cars and jewelry! graphic design!) it really seems impossible but they pulled it off. I liked how they included hard-to-find furniture by Neutra and Schindler, like this chair by Schindler for Sardi’s Restaurant:

schindler chair

The show is deep deep deep and is up through March 20th, 2012.

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