retro deco

July 7, 2013 in signage, things built

There are some landmarks and things that recall a past culture or time and are still used today.  Some of them are cherished.  You can tell; they are well cared for.  In some cases, a professional designer didn’t have a hand in their creation, but they have a certain draw or charm because of their simple yet effective design.  Although their looks evolve over time, sometimes they keep remnants from a past that had different technology and a different mood.  Since food is rooted in location, culture, and memories – especially spending time and sharing meals with others, local food joints are popular landmarks as well as favorite watering holes.  Remembering history, moving forward.

The four photos below, I grouped together because of their retro, decorative qualities.  I don’t know much about the details of different styles, but their designs remind me of things from the 1930’s through the ‘60’s.  The bones of the things and buildings shown are nothing special.  What caught my eye is the careful use of colors and signs.  The type of text used, the logos, and images say a lot about the mood that the owner wanted to project about the place or thing and what it can provide.  The signs, including their colors, give the clues to what the place or thing is all about.  Like reading a book, we usually pay less attention to the qualities of the covers or the paper and more attention to the meaning that the print conveys.



amer 1

Duck or decorated shed?  There is a book about buildings that are ducks or decorated sheds:  Learning from Las Vegas by Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi.  In short, a building that’s a duck has a form that leaves no doubt about its use.  A building that’s a decorated shed is basically a box that needs signs and symbols to tell people about its use.



amer 2-1

 101 Café



amer 4

Parkway Bakery and Tavern



amer 3

Although the remodel of this tattoo shop is fairly recent and I’m guessing that the paint job on the car is not original, I included them because of their retro style.  Ford Fairlane ’62 coupe, according to a friend who knows something about classic cars.  The way some people can taste a wine and tell which grapes were used, how they were treated, where the wine is from, and its vintage, other people can look at a classic car and tell its make and model, including its year.  Amazing.  When I ask classic-car fans how they pinpoint the different models and years, they’ll say something like this, in an offhanded way, “Oh, the tail lights in the ’65 are smaller than the ’64 model.  Also, the ’64’s have round tail lights.  In ’65, Chevy made them rectangular.”  It’s all in the details.