1950s California Modern by Julius Shulman

Stephen Coles

Shorpy.com posted a couple of classic 1950s interior shots by celebrated architecture photographer Julius Shulman. Above: Recreation Pavilion. Mirman Residence, Arcadia, California, 1959. Architects: Buff, Straub & Hensman. Some amusing commentary at Shorpy’s, including:

Please do not move cushions more than one-quarter inch from designated positions on the Recreation Pavilion Fun Grid. The Herman Miller benches will not be moved more than 21 bricks away from decking. Tennis racquets allowed on pillows only if propped at an appropriately informal angle, 35 degrees to the horizontal. Thank you.

1950. Cocktail hour at the Spencer residence in Santa Monica. A commenter says:

High ceilings, simple, sparse furnishings, even the fashions look contemporary. Usually there would be a grey brick fireplace and evidence of robin egg blue palette or chrome and blond furniture around for the fifties. This could be 2009 decor.

Exactly. We’re definitely returning to this aesthetic. That’s what I’m getting at when I say mid-century modernism is “both a historical milestone and a living, breathing ideal, reflected in much of today’s best design and architecture.”

Thanks for the tip, JLT!

Update: Daily Icon reminds us of this other Shulman masterpiece, which was recently seen in the Oakland Museum of California’s “Birth of the Cool” exhibition.

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  1. 12.07.08 Phil VonA

    Absolutely stunning, I especially enjoy the ‘Cocktail Hour’ photo, I honestly wish my place looked like that.

  2. 01.04.09 Nikasha

    You have a great blog. I love mid-century modern, but only own one piece so far. It is so true about that “Cocktail Hour” photo. If it was presented with other pictures of modern spaces as being current, I doubt anyone would be the wiser.

  3. 04.19.09 Mark C.

    I love the lines in mid-century modern design.

  4. 07.22.09 Neece

    check out Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie at the Pierre Koenig Case Study House: “domestic bliss”

  5. 07.22.09 Neece
  6. 06.25.12 — Back to the Future

    Everything was so elegant and sophisticated in the 50’s!

  7. 06.30.12 Stephen Coles

    Shulman’s work represents some of the best of the ’50s. There was plenty of ugly back then too. Not all of it was skillfully executed modernism.

  8. 05.19.13 Dave Stukas

    Little-known fact: in the bottom picture of the woman in the blue dress sitting on the black leather sofa surrounded by red pillows…the man in the background at the hi-fi console is architect Pierre Koenig, the architect of the house in which they are sitting, located at 9038 Wonderland Park Avenue, in the Laurel Canyon area of the Hollywood Hills.

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