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Mid-Century Design-Part I

It’s no secret. I’m a huge Disney fan. My fascination began as a child. And while it’s evolved over the years, I always return to their mid-century art and design. The company was born in the roaring twenties but it was Disney of the 50s and 60s that has had the biggest influence on me. 

More than Animation

Sure there was the animation. Peter Pan and Cinderella are still two of my favorite Disney feature films. But it was the architecture and industrial design elements of hotels and theme parks that have impacted me the most. 

This past winter I was so lucky to stumble upon a new book by David Bossert. It it about designer Kem Weber’s Mid-Century furniture designs for the Walt Disney Studios in California. The content contained within is simply inspiring but the book itself, with it’s spot gloss application on illustrations and photographs…stunning. This bad boy is officially a permanent resident of my book shelf. And I HIGHLY recommend adding it to your collection. It’s well worth every dime.

So why am I talking about mid-century art, design and furniture on an Airstream website? Well, my goal is to renovate my Airstreams by modernizing the original “mid-century moderne” design to reflect a more West Coast Moderne style. When the time came to begin researching this aesthetic, I thought what better place to start than sunny Southern California and the Walt Disney Studios Lot.

The Disney Connection

There are distinct connections between the modern design of Airstreams and the architectural and interior design that occupy locales such as Mickey Avenue and Dopey Drive in Burbank. Striking horizontal lines and simplicity in form and colors are just a few. But there is “something” that strikes you about West Coast Moderne style. 

In the words of author David Bossert, it was Kem Weber’s West Coast Moderne style that embodied the “more relaxed lifestyle, freed of the stiffness and pretensions of traditional interiors.” It “laid the groundwork for the California modernism of the 1950s and 1960s.”

So naturally he was the choice of Walt Disney to create a work environment for his animation team. It’s this style that is still used today. It’s as timeless as it is functional and stylish. In my mind, Mr. Weber has already done the hard work. It’s now my job to be inspired by this book that lays out the aesthetic in living, breathing color.

More to come in a future post, including my love affair with the Tiki Tiki Tiki Room;)

Kem Weber concept illustration
Early Kem Weber concept illustration of a layout desk at Walt Disney Studios.