Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America

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SKU: 78-0300234220 Made To Order
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A book about playful innovation in the postwar era.

A lively exploration of eclecticism, playfulness, and whimsy in American postwar design, including architecture, graphic design, and product design 

This spirited volume shows how postwar designers embraced whimsy and eclecticism in their work, exploring playfulness as an essential construct of modernity. Following World War II, Americans began accumulating more and more goods, spurring a transformation in the field of interior decoration. Storage walls became ubiquitous, often serving as a home’s centerpiece. Designers such as Alexander Girard encouraged homeowners to populate their new shelving units with folk art, as well as unconventional and modern objects, to produce innovative and unexpected juxtapositions within modern architectural settings. Playfulness can be seen in the colorful, child-sized furniture by Charles and Ray Eames, who also produced toys. And in the postwar corporate world, the concept of play is manifested in the influential advertising work of Paul Rand. Set against the backdrop of a society that was experiencing rapid change and high anxiety, Serious Play takes a revelatory look at how many of the country’s leading designers connected with their audience through wit and imagination.

Hardcover, 256 pages. Yale University Press, 2018.

Weight 3.5 lbs
Dimensions 11.2 × 9.9 × 1 in
Cover

Hardcover

Pages

256

Publisher

Yale University Press

Charles & Ray Eames

C&R

Charles Ormand Eames Jr., a nearly-licensed architect born in St. Louis in 1907, and Bearnice Alexandra “Ray” Kaiser, an abstract painter born in Sacramento in 1912, are cemented into the canon of 20th-century design. Since uniting in 1940, these partners in life and work have been internationally recognized at the forefront of the design, architecture, filmmaking, and furniture communities.

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