Monday, June 30, 2014

Mid century Kodachrome abundance

They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world's
a sunny day
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So mama don't take my Kodachrome away

The 1960s were colorful. Paul Simon's tribute lines to Kodachrome film could very well apply to daily life in the decade that was the first one for me to remember. The 1950s were no doubt just as rich with colors, but that's before my time.

Colors everywhere. I remember a red Formica kitchen table, with a yellow second level and bright cheerful stools around it. When I close my eyes, I still see the plastic ribbons in the garden door opening, to keep flies and bugs out on the warm days of the endless summers, slowly waving in the wind in all the colors of the rainbow. The Luxaflex was lowered with its grey, yellow and red louvres. A green couch and red brick wallpaper. Actually, wherever you looked, colors in abundance. Life was good. Life was colorful. Lemonade glasses, kitchenware, Tupperware, nothing was black or white.
Unless you were a follower of the mid 1960s op art fashion of course. It even expended to our soda pops, unnatural acid colors that had to make us believe they were all treating us with their own individual flavor. But when you closed your eyes, it was difficult to tell what you were drinking. I still remember their names: Riedel, Raak, Exota and 3es. Cars did not escape the color frenzy either. My father had two toned cars twice, one black, admittedly, but over bright yellow, the other blue with a white roof. But it was inevitable, it all had to come to an end. The Vietnam war, the 1968 protests, the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia, the omnious predictions of the Club of Rome, life was not as cheerful after all.

The 1973 Volkswagen 1303 was available in a kaleidoscope of bright colors.

But colors did not surrender without one final eruption.
The colormania had its final moments of glory in the early 1970s. Just think of the cars we saw then, all in bright overdone colors that can only be written with an exclamation mark. Yellow! Orange! Red! Bright blue! Brown! Green! The walls in our bedrooms: orange, green and brown! Colors in their supernova stage. And then we entered the era of pastels and beige, culminating in our chique but boring obsession with grey, black and blue.

Color is one of the defining aspects of the mid century design. Mid century style architecture is hot these days. There's a growing community of people collecting mid century furniture, home decorations and kitchenware. The Etsy website is their marketplace, and I admit, it is fun to look around there. Recently, I had my share of a colorful mid century purchase too. A set of three lemonade glasses with blue, pink and mint green prints, just like I remember them from my childhood. A trip down lifestyle Memory Lane. No Etsy needed here. Just € 1,79 for a set of three at the liquor store. It made me happy.


  1. I rembember as a teen my sleeping room had purple and orange doors, wall paper with huge orange ornaments and an orange light. Times have changed. In the eighties and nineties everything became white, black and gray. Nowadays a brown and grayish rural style seems to be popular. But I must admit, all those bright colors from the past looked very cheerful.

  2. You're completly right. Another interesting point that calls my attention is that, on the past (you can see the 30's to the 80's) the vision of the future was very grey and uncolourful. You can see on the movies. Maybe this coud be an atribute of the B&W film but if you think in Flash Gordon, Fritz Lang Metropolis, Gothan City, Mad Max scenario, etc.,it's very difficult to think about them with lots of collours. You'll see a predominant two-tone. This coud be also related to a sad perspective about the future...
    Rogerio Machado