October 20, 2013

Snapshots: Mid-Century Modern Photo Safari, Los Angeles

Mid-century modern: An architectural, interior, graphic and product design form that generally describes developments in modern design, architecture, and urban development from roughly 1933 to 1965.

Googie: A form of modern architecture, a subdivision of futurist architecture influenced by car culture, jets, the Space Age, and the Atomic Age.

Hello friends!  It's been a quiet week here at Rook No. 17, I know.  The family and I headed out of town for a brief, but much needed vacation in the form of the Great American Family Roadtrip.  We had lots of adventures on our way down the California coast, all the while keeping our eyes peeled for Googie architecture and Mid-century modern style.  What can I say?  I positively dig the sleek, chic, functional and space-age style of the postwar period.

I likely have my grandmother to thank for this fascination.  During the 1960s she curated a collection of incredible Mid-Century pieces in her Los Angeles home that she picked up from the garage sales of the rich and famous.  So, my brothers and I grew up eating toasted bialys at her Knoll Tulip dinette set and drinking our OJ out of Libbey Silver Leaf tumblers.  

Because this was our first time back in Los Angeles since my grandmother passed away, we decided to pay homage to her fabulous sense of style with a photo safari of mid-century modern sights.

First stop was Central California landmark, the Madonna Inn. Opened in 1958, this frothy pink palace, built in a pseudo Swiss Alps style, features a dining room redolent with 1960s kitch splendor


We always stopped at the Madonna Inn on our way down to my grandmother's when I was a kid. That bubblegum-pink tufted booth was the perfect setting to snap a pic of the latest addition to my vintage handbag collection (I couldn't help it -- it was kind of screaming my name, or at least my first initial).

Our next retro find was at the Big Kid Collectible Toy Mall & Retro Store in Sherman Oaks. If we had a bigger car (and a bigger house), these two beauties would have come home with us.

At the Time Travel Mart in Los Angeles, we spotted this Jetson's style Panasonic Television. We thought it would make the perfect head for a robot.

Undoubtedly, I have a weakness for glittery vinyl upholstery.  We found these at the Corvette Diner in San Diego.  Yes, they spin.  Wheeee!

Also at the Corvette Diner, we spotted tables with the iconic Mid-Century boomerang design in black, silver and gold!

We captured a few architectural gems like Norm's (1949), Johnie's Coffee Shop (1955), and Encounters at LAX.  Although it's technically considered Dingbat architecture, we couldn't resist picking up some maple Long Johns on our way out of town at Randy's Donuts (1952).

Next time you're on a road-trip, dream up your own photo safari!  It's a great way to explore and collect photo souvenirs! 

Are there any Googie or Dingbat structures in your town?


  1. Thanks for the photos! I love this style of architecture, too. We stopped at Randy's Donuts on our way back to the airport on one of our trips to LA - what fun!

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