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Steel Droplet Cylinder Shade Lamp
"Perfect lamp for a bedside table…nice clean design."
- Martha, San Jose, CA
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You've seen the style a thousand times...and chances are modern photographer Julius Shulman (1910-2009) had something to do with that.
Following up on Cori's post Design in Style: Mid-Century Modern Roundup from yesterday, Mid-century Modernism is one of the most popular and recognizable design styles today (and one that we love!). One of the most common subsets of the style is California Modern, a style of residential architecture characterized by glass walls, oversized eaves and severe geometries, most commonly found in horizontal cities like Palm Springs and Los Angeles. These structures represent the quintessential post-war American Dream and for Mid-century Modern fans, the designers and architects of these homes are household names: Eames, Schindler, Neutra, Lautner, even Lloyd Wright.
Shulman has photographed the most iconic Mid-century residences of the last seventy years, and his uncanny ability to give soul to these stark spaces brings up an interesting question: does a great subject make a great photograph, or vice versa?
His images have immortalized the work of John Lautner (pictured above) and Richard Neutra (pictured below)...
...bringing to light these striking edifices, not to mention the furniture within them. The impact of Mid-century thinking influences home decor design to this day.
Zuo Liftoff Black Dining Table, Holtkoetter Satin White and Satin Nickel Tripod Floor Lamp
Not all of Shulman's photos included human subjects, but when they did, his models exuded the composed cool that came to define the Mid-century aesthetic.
The California Modern lifestyle was, at least on the surface, one of extreme leisure, with cocktails and swimming pools featuring prominently. But it was also one that indicated a tectonic shift in perception, from Modernism as an abstruse European design philosophy to a populist aesthetic that could be mass produced and consumable. To buy modern floor lamps and furniture was suddenly as easy as picking up groceries. And with Mid-century Modern designs now available more than ever today, we are all the beneficiaries.
We may never credit a single mid-century furniture or building design to Julius Shulman, but we might all want to thank him for turning the camera - and in the process, many of us - on to this revolutionary look.
Images: W5RAN, Peterson Live, Midcenturia, Pleasure Photo, TrndWntd
Julius Shulman: Modern Photographer
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