Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Atomic Era Kitchens And Homes: Shaping The Modern Era of Design With Postwar Technology

Introducing The Atomic Era

What is meant by Atomic Era Decor and Design in kitchens? When you are searching for 1950's kitchen and home collectibles you will often see the term "Atomic Era" or "Atomic Age". In fact there is a magazine called "Atomic Ranch", dedicated to this Mid-Century phase in home decor. But what do we mean by this term?

Postwar influences on Design

Atomic Era Design generally refers to the postwar period (second World War) when manufacturers were introducing into the home, products, materials and patterns influenced by the war effort and wartime research. The term also refers to designs influenced by "The Space Age" .

1950's Technological Boom

There was a technological boom as state of the art materials, plastic laminates, synthetics, fiberglass, latex foam was "shaping" American homes in the postwar years. Plastics could be molded into asymmetric and organic shapes. Wires and metals were constructed to form "hair pin" legs on furnishings and used commonly in modern sculpture like design throughout the home. Aluminum and chrome dominated cookwares, barware and leisure time.

Decorative Arts 50's

According to Charlotte and Peter Fiell in their superb book, "Decorative Art 50's (Taschne), "designers were inspired by a wide range of themes such as molecular chemistry, nuclear physics, sicence fiction, African art and abstract contemporary sculpture by such artists as Alexander Calder and Hans Arp. The spiky angular forms of the early 1950's gave way to more organic and biomorphic shapes as the decade progressed".

Shaping the 50's

You will see that during the 1950's textiles, coffee tables, end tables, dinettes, lamps, housewares, wall decor, accessories etc. were designed with amoeba or boomerang shapes, geometric patterns, space age designs, star bursts and abstract motif. Cookware, coffee pots, snack sets, punch bowls, serving pieces often were designed with 'leg" or platform bases which resembled rocket design....ready to take off into the future!

Books You Will Like On The Atomic Era:

Collecting The 1950's by Madeleine Marsh

Decorative Art 50s
by Charlotte and peter Fiell

Retro Style by Marion Haslam

Fifties Style by Richard Horn

by Suzanne Tochne

Atomic Kitchen
by Brian S. Alexander

50s Decor
by Collectors Compass Martindale

Hot Kitchen and Home Collectibles of the 30s, 40s, 50s

Photographs courtesy

C. Dianne Zweig is the author of Hot Kitchen & Home Collectibles of the 30s, 40s, 50s and Hot Cottage Collectibles for Vintage Style Homes. She is also the Editor of an actively growing internet based resource community for people who buy, sell or collect antiques, collectibles and art. You can find Dianne’s fabulous retro and vintage kitchen, home and cottage collectibles at The Collinsville Antiques Company of New Hartford, CT, a 22,000 feet antique emporium with an in-house retro cafĂ©.

To read more articles by C. Dianne Zweig click on this link:
C. Dianne Zweig’s Blog Kitsch ‘n Stuff

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Dianne is a member of:
The American Society of Journalists and Authors
The Authors Guild, Inc.


  1. Love this style...I live near Sun City, Az which is the retirement capital of the USA (I think) and see it every once and awhile...grab it when I can...

  2. So cool. I grew up with it but don't really have any of it in my home.

  3. Did you ever see the movie "Parents"? It was kind of a gruesome plot (cannibalism!) but the set design was over-the-top atomic age chic. Your post reminded me of it......

  4. Dianne, I have those glasses and a similar coffee pot on a burner! Aren't they grand?