I watched “The Incredibles” with the kids this weekend. Amazing film. Not only is it entertaining as all get out, but the CGI is jaw-dropping. Absolutely stunning stuff.
I was perusing the trivia section of the IMDB record, and I found this:
The unusual architecture in the film was based on a distinctive style of 1950s space-age futurism known as “Googie”, most often seen in coffee shops and bowling alleys of the era.
Googie is one of those things you’ve seen a million times, but you just didn’t know it had a name. It’s a Jetsons-ish space-age type design that looks hopelessly quaint these days. In “The Incredibles,” you see it reflected in the design of things on Syndrome’s island.
I did a little investigation (meaning, I searched Google for “googie”) and I found these resources:
- Googie Architecture Online. A fantastic archive of actual Googie-esque buildings in the real world. Don’t miss The Home of the Future.
- Googie Central. More of the same. Notice the control tower of LAX on this page. The tower was built in 1961, which means it was probably designed in the late 50s — the heydey of Googie.
- Googie: Fifties Coffee Shop Architecture. A coffee table book
- Googie. The top-notch Wikipedia article (as if there was any doubt)
Googie reminds me of TomorrowLand at Disney. It harkens back to an optimistic time when anything was possible, and technology and ingenuity were going to change the world.
And what a world it was — it was a place where gorgeous, perfectly-groomed housewives pressed bright plastic buttons and the dinner table collapsed into the floor to be automatically washed and re-set. People traveled along bright, clean monorails to their jobs. Cars were all curvy, with big windows and chrome surfaces.
The Googie vision didn’t pan out. After the optimisitc 50s, we headed right into the turmoil and revolution of the 60s and 70s. Are we still as optimistic about technology and its ability to change our lives as we were back then? Do we speak about “The Future” with the reverence we used to?
I don’t think so. I wonder why. Where exactly did the Googie vision fall apart?