The 1968 Exhibit: Style

The "look" of 1968 was not all revolutionary

151

While the boldness of Pop art or the clean lines of European products found their way into some textiles, graphics, and consumer items, most American design remained conservative. Living rooms around the country filled up with Mediterranean modern furniture; kitchens boasted appliances in Harvest Gold or Avocado; automobiles were still big, sweeping gas guzzlers. In fashion, the mod look seemed ubiquitous‚Äì‚Äìbut that was mostly in the media. What most people, young and old, actually wore still looked a lot like the 1950s.

1968: Boom Time

147

The decade of the 1960s was the longest uninterrupted period of economic expansion in U.S. history. Real income grew substantially, and by 1968, unemployment had fallen to 3.6 percent. Nearly 40 percent of married women were in the labor force in 1968, which was double the percentage of 20 years earlier, so families had more income. The consumer boom of the postwar years peaked in 1968. All the new cars, gadgets, color televisions, and cameras created a new problem: too much stuff. The year 1968 marked the beginning of the "U-store-it" industry, with individual storage facilities popping up around the country.

Plastics

148

"I just want to say one word to you. Just one word. . . . Are you listening? . . . Plastics. . . . There's a great future in plastics. Think about it."

In the landmark 1967 film The Graduate, young Benjamin Braddock receives this famous career advice at his college graduation party. By 1968, "plastics" had become not only a punchline, but also the material that was defining an entire era. Suddenly, it seemed, EVERYTHING was being made of plastic: clothing, housewares, furniture, records, food containers, toys. Plastics could take on just about any wacky shape or brilliant color, and‚bonus points!‚it was cheap and disposable! But by the 1970s, the oil crisis and the environmental movement would give new, darker meanings to the phrase: "There's a great future in plastics."

149

Sacco [beanbag] Chair

David Osterberg Danish Teak

Better Homes and Gardens

Paper clothing

Massimo Vignelli

Oleg Cassini

Andy Warhol

Marimekko

Charles and Raye Eames

Paul McCobb

Massimo Vignelli, Hellerware

Lucite

Tupperware

Twister

150

The "look" of 1968 was not all revolutionary

151

While the boldness of Pop art or the clean lines of European products found their way into some textiles, graphics, and consumer items, most American design remained conservative. Living rooms around the country filled up with Mediterranean modern furniture; kitchens boasted appliances in Harvest Gold or Avocado; automobiles were still big, sweeping gas guzzlers. In fashion, the mod look seemed ubiquitous‚Äì‚Äìbut that was mostly in the media. What most people, young and old, actually wore still looked a lot like the 1950s.

1968: Boom Time

147

The decade of the 1960s was the longest uninterrupted period of economic expansion in U.S. history. Real income grew substantially, and by 1968, unemployment had fallen to 3.6 percent. Nearly 40 percent of married women were in the labor force in 1968, which was double the percentage of 20 years earlier, so families had more income. The consumer boom of the postwar years peaked in 1968. All the new cars, gadgets, color televisions, and cameras created a new problem: too much stuff. The year 1968 marked the beginning of the "U-store-it" industry, with individual storage facilities popping up around the country.

Plastics

148

"I just want to say one word to you. Just one word. . . . Are you listening? . . . Plastics. . . . There's a great future in plastics. Think about it."

In the landmark 1967 film The Graduate, young Benjamin Braddock receives this famous career advice at his college graduation party. By 1968, "plastics" had become not only a punchline, but also the material that was defining an entire era. Suddenly, it seemed, EVERYTHING was being made of plastic: clothing, housewares, furniture, records, food containers, toys. Plastics could take on just about any wacky shape or brilliant color, and‚bonus points!‚it was cheap and disposable! But by the 1970s, the oil crisis and the environmental movement would give new, darker meanings to the phrase: "There's a great future in plastics."