“The Incredibles” Mid-Century Ideal

Stephen Coles

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The home of Bob and Helen Parr in “The Incredibles” is one of the finest examples of mid-century modernism in all of animated cinema. Thanks to Pixar’s skilled artists and miraculous CGI, every detail in the architecture to the furniture to the decor can be an idealized depiction of an American suburban residence in the ’60s. Cheers to production designer Lou Romano and art director Ralph Eggleston for giving fans of this style so much eye candy.

Update Thanks to Robert Corr for pointing me to this gallery of large snaps featuring chairs from the film.

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It only plays a small role, but Violet’s junior high school isn’t bad either.

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Edna’s ultra-chic, expansive lair represents the colder, starker side of ’60s modernism as opposed to the Parr’s cozy abode.

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The second half of the movie is saturated with retrofuturistic spy movie sets like James Bond and “Sleeper” (see last image).

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The Retrofuturism of

If you still haven’t had enough, “The Art of The Incredibles” offers an in-depth look at the art and process behind these scenes.

See also: commentary on the production design from Jessica Helfand at Design Observer.


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  1. 04.06.09 — Ted

    Absolutely agreed. My daughter and I were watching this on Disney channel recently and I was struck (again) by how much I wanted to live near the Parrs. I also enjoyed the climactic downtown scenes: the department store next to the pond had a great look. Kudos too to the composer; the soundtrack fit perfectly.

  2. 04.06.09 — Craig

    I never had any appreciation whatsoever for mid-century modern design (preferring, initially, Victorian, then Craftsman) until the I saw The Incredibles. It completely changed my sense of aesthetics!

  3. 04.06.09 Marsha Riti

    I totally agree, check out “Tin Toy” an early short by Pixar for more mid-century inspired decor. Now I know I am gonna get flack for this but I thought “Speed Racer” had great mid-century design as well. What do you think?

  4. 04.06.09 — Ted

    Oh, and don’t forget about the short “Jack Jack Attack,” which shows additional interior details of the Parr’s house.

  5. 04.06.09 Jem N' Tonic

    I have to say thank you for this post because, unlike all you very observant folks who commented before me, I never thought much about all the MCM and Modern styling. It’s funny too because, I am, and have been very into MCM and British mod styling for years. This just past me by somehow. Now I want to re-watch the movie.

  6. 04.06.09 josephine

    i’m so glad you wrote about this, as i noticed all great mid-century modern styles in this movie, too. the music and closing credits are reminiscent of that era, too. pixar does such a great job in all their films of conjuring up a style and carrying it out consistently in the different aspects of their films.

  7. 04.07.09 — Tom

    Both the Incredibles and Speed Racer used Eichler neighborhoods as inspiration.

  8. 04.07.09 Paul

    What a great post. Thanks for writing about this. My daughter and I love this movie as well. My wife got me a companion coffee table book called The Art of The Incredibles which includes tons of sketches and variations of the Parr’s house. If you happen to see it at a bookstore, flip through it. It’s a real treat. Those Pixar artists have great taste. So many great details.

  9. 04.07.09 MJA

    agreed. i saw this movie twice in the theater and bought the dvd right when it came out (and have also drooled over the conceptual design within the companion book). in addition to it being a fine story/concept with cool/funny characters, i’ve always loved the architecture and industrial design scattered throughout this movie. especially the parr house. man, how i love long and low mid century ranch houses.
    and speaking of brad bird films, “iron giant” is another great animation with cool design.

  10. 04.09.09 — Hendo

    Excellent article on MCM design of The Incredibles. I am also envious of Syndrome’s island lair. It is perhaps the best lair since the Thunderbird’s island hideaway or the SPECTRE volcano lair in James Bond’s “You Only Live Twice.”
    I never tire of watching this movie. The care and planning that went into the movie’s design are great. I hope that Pixar will revisit the Parr family in the near future.

  11. 04.10.09 — Hillary Bolger

    Fantastic animation. I am one of the few people left in the world who have yet to see this movie, and I guarantee that this has inspired me to do so!
    I searched on the blog and noticed that no one has said anything about the intro to Monsters, Inc. It has the same vibe, but has a much more hand-drawn, cartoon-y vibe. The song is also fun on its own, and a perfect fit for the intro (It’s called “Monsters, Inc” by composer Randy Newman).
    Here is a link to a video of the complete intro (definitely worth the minute and a half of your day):

    Also, in trying to find the name and composer of the song, I found a great book entitled “The Art of Monsters, Inc” by Doctor & Lasseter (I believe these are done for most Pixar movies).

  12. 04.15.09 seesaw designs

    love this post… how did i not really notice it when i watched the movie? must go watch again.

  13. 04.16.09 Deidre Joyner

    I agree, the Parr family had the best mid-century modern home! Being an Oakland girl, I loved that they lived in the Bay Area.

  14. 04.16.09 Carlo Craig

    Fabulous post. I was getting ready to do my own examination and screenshot pictorial of The Incredibles when I googled and found yours. I’m watching A Star Is Born right now looking at Judy Garland’s living room as part of my quest to locate cinematic midcentury modern furniture displays. It pales in comparison to The Incredibles.
    Anyway, here’s what I ended up posting– it’s a lot shorter than what I had planned:
    Good job midcenturymodernist.

  15. 04.17.09 dave

    I love how Pixar pays homage to Oakland and the surrounding area. I think in the beg. of the movie they use street names from Emeryville. Great post!
    I want the fish mobile thats on the back wall of their living room

  16. 04.17.09 Zack

    The wonderful environments is one large reason this is my favorite Pixar film (and one of my favorite films in general). Thanks for helping to bring them the attention they deserve!

  17. I have always loved this movie for this EXACT reason. Every time I watch it with my daughter, I just always wish that I lived within this animated retro fantasy. It’s minimal modernism at its best. It’s simply sublime. Thanks for sharing!

  18. 04.19.09 Isabelle

    Great post and great spotting. It is an amazing modernist house on the exterior.. interior maybe a little Brady Bunch interior.

  19. 04.20.09 Tikimama

    The first time I saw this movie, I had to try not to squeal with delight over all the details in their house. When we got the video, I started telling my husband all the things I wanted, especially the fish art, which he says “he can make”!
    Thanks so much for this collection of shots. May I link to this post on my blog??

  20. 04.20.09 — Nancy

    Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times YES! I was drooling over the awesome mid-century decor (albeit animated) in this movie. Bought the dvd as soon as it was available.
    If you love this movie, you’ll also love the book “Best Pet of All”. Buy it. You won’t be disappointed!

  21. 05.01.09 Erika

    I watch this movie over and over again with my little piglet for just that reason. Love love love their house.

  22. 08.25.09 Jennifer Squires Ross

    I love the styling of this movie. Thanks for a fun post!

  23. 10.04.09 — Modern Watcher

    As pertaining to the style, it appears to me that the designers wanted to blend James Bond 60s era villainry and musical score with 1960s Marvel Superhero mythology (The Fantastic Four) and top it all off with 1950s style interiors that offered a few concessions to the sixties. The way they mutate classic fifties furniture is interesting – take the Italian Zanuso ‘Lady Chairs’ for example, which they strip of their metal legs to tack on wood ones. Why? The lamp/table next to the chair has tripod legs. With that type shade it would very likely have a solid base attached to the one pole. The chair next to it most certainly should be low back, but they stretched it into a highback. The Corvette Stingray mutation, which Mr. Incredible drives, is another example. The George Nelson ‘ball clock’ has even had the balls turned into squares?!
    It seems everything had to be modified for the sake of modification, so that it could not be ‘exactly’ matched.
    The film is extremely enjoyable and no small research and artistic effort was employed to all these mid-century style details. The film is a real treat for anyone over 35 who remembers somewhat the furnishings and trappings of the time (when they were still in greater abundance) in their youth. That’s probably why it didn’t do as well as it could have – it is a film which has a real message, and anti-socialist underpinnings, for a more mature, conservative audience. I hope they make another one before the target audience, they paid tribute to, is not here to appreciate it.

  24. 11.11.09 — Oliver

    Anyone interested in this certain brand of architecture should look at Joseph Eichler as well. The premise for the Parrs house is based of off his designs

  25. 07.14.10 — Anne

    Can anyone tell who the dining set designer is? Or what’s name of the dining table and chairs? Thanks.

  26. 03.01.12 ron

    I love the Incredibles. But it bugs me that the tongue and groove decking on the ceiling is running parallel with the beams instead of the correct way . I notice it every time in the argument scene at the Parr residence.

  27. 06.13.15 — Bonnie

    We just watched this movie and couldn’t believe how much their house looked like ours on the outside! Ours was built in 1979 and has the inverted roof with the windows at the top and open beams on the interior :-)

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