The Great Indoors

Ext 62

Midcentury modern fans, as well as guys who are single (or sometimes wish they were), will likely enjoy heading over to our fraternal site Masculine Interiors for a fine article posted yesterday.

It’s about Playboy’s architectural and interior design articles of the ’50s and ’60s, and was written by contributor James Kraus.

Kraus’ previous articles for Ivy Style include this excerpt from his jet-age bachelor cookbook and a wonderful piece on vintage automotive advertising illustrations. — CC

23 Comments on "The Great Indoors"

  1. The closest mankind has ever come to heaven on earth. Kublai Khan move over.

    I read that Hefner didn’t leave the Chicago Playboy Mansion for three years. Three years. All indoors.

    He didn’t need to go out for anything. He edited the magazine from his bedroom, a dormitory stocked with gorgeous Playboy Bunnies was a floor away, movies were brought in and shown in his private theater, there was a grotto in the basement with a glass wall so he could watch nude women swimming, barbers were brought in, a world class kitchen catered to his needs (besides Pepsi-Cola) round the clock, glamorous parties took place nightly replete with all the names of the day (movie stars, writers, musicians, sports figures, politicians — anybody who was anybody).

    No billionaire today ever had it as good — the perfection of his Playboy life transcended any amount of money.

    In those days (and before he bought his famous black Boeing 707 with the white bunny on the tail) Hef was afraid to fly. Can’t say that I blame him. Why risk the perfect life?

  2. Nice Kubla Khan reference.

    “In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure-dome decree…”

    And bravo Mr. Kraus for another great look at life and style at midcentury.

  3. User-centered design at its finest!

  4. Love the new look and ease of navigation within and around the site.

    Best Regards,

    Heinz-Urich von B.

  5. The irony is that the old brick houses at the two sides of the iron-glass monstrosity are much more beautiful and elegants.

  6. Mid-Century home design, as shown in the picture above, is horrific. Hell, most every single family home built after the war is junk, really, compared to the homes built from 1890-1930.

  7. Charlottesville | June 25, 2015 at 3:51 pm |

    Great pictures. I confess to having a soft spot in my heart for the sleek mid-century modern look, but the Jetsons-style is more fun to look at, say in Our Man Flint or Goldfinger, than to live in. The tulip chair looks particularly uncomfortable. Plus, the easy chairs, side tables, piles of books, oriental rugs, and so on that make a home pleasant, for me at least, would look out of place. My wife too is attracted to the sleek and spare décor of the 50s and early 60s, but when it came time for us to choose where we would live, we went with a c. 1900 farm house and have no regrets.

  8. Funny how the golden ages of things don’t coincide!

  9. I recently saw a group picture of Hef with no less than forty bunny’s surrounding him. The caption at the bottom read, “When Hef passes away, you can’t say he’s gone to a better place!” How appropriate!

  10. Bunnies, forgive me! Also, I believe Hef’s jet was a DC 9.

  11. I’m a fan of tasteful modernism too, but like you guys when it comes time to put stuff in my own home I flinch. There’s also such a marked difference between good and bad modernist architecture. How did we go from the Guggenheim to Madison Square Garden?

  12. @Groton76 because flying is safer than walking down the street in the winter? Also you don’t know how billionaires are actually living, so I would say its safe to assume some of them are living lives on par or greater. Refer to millionaire Dan Bilzerian.

  13. If our editor will forgive the link to another man’s page, there’s a fun tumblr out there called ‘Roger Wilkerson, the Suburban Legend’; it’s full of great mid-century art – automobile advertising, alcohol, home design, etc.:

  14. May I suggest a review of the unfortunately titled movie How to Murder your Wife. The multi-story bachelor pad of Jack Lemmon was pretty cool. Virna Lisi popping out of a cake wasn’t so bad either.

    @Charlottesville I’m with you regarding the comfort of a, shall we say, more traditionalist décor. My wife and I have decorated our new/old house with high quality shaker furniture but with a nod to modernism. Jacobsen’s PH-5 lamp instead of a gunky chandelier in the formal dining room and an a pair of Eames chairs and ottomans in the library among others.


  15. Pardon, Hennigsen’s PH-5 lamp.


  16. Charlottesville | January 13, 2017 at 12:26 pm |

    @Sacksuit. Your combination of traditional and modern sounds perfect. That 2015 comment of mine above still holds true. We just passed the 20 year mark in our farmhouse, and have been living in it full time for more than 10 years now. It is pretty close to the definition of the good life for us, although we still need a “city fix” in NY or Washington now and then. Also, I agree that How to Murder Your Wife is a great bachelor pad movie. Terry-Thomas as the gentleman’s gentleman contributed a lot to the ambience of the place too. Pillow Talk gave Rock Hudson a swell pad as well. Boeing Boeing and Come Blow Your Horn also featured bachelor pads, but perhaps not at the same level of swank. (Words like “swell” and “swank” just seem right in this context.) The more recent parody Down With Love may have had the best pad of all. I highly recommend them all for a dose of 60s bachelor chic.

  17. I too have a soft spot for the swanky mid century modern decor. I currently have my mancave decorated with more than a strong nod toward the look. I even went so far as to refurbish a Zenith record console with modern stero equipment. Perfect for listening to jazz and sipping the Martini. But I agree with Charlottesville and Sacksuit regarding overall comfort. Besides to really pull the look off I think you must have the style right house. Maybe something inspired by Frank L Wright.

    @Charlottesville…I wonder if I drove by your farmhouse today. I was in Cville for the day. Had a great lunch along the pedestrian zone. Ducked into a cool clothing store called the Men’s and boy’s store which had a nice selection but the prices were a little steep. Overall it was a swell day.

  18. Charlottesville | January 13, 2017 at 4:47 pm |

    @Manassass — I love the idea of a hollowed-out Zenith housing a modern sound system. My home is 20 miles or so west of Charlottesville, at the foot of the mountains near the Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway. However, my office is in Charlottesville, and I too was on the Downtown Mall today taking an old Brooks suit and sport coat to the tailor for a tune-up. Maybe we passed! The Men’s and Boys’ Shop carries an odd mix of things, some of which are quite nice, like Dobbs and Stetson fedoras and Allen Edmonds shoes. The best local spot for trad menswear these days, indeed since 1950, is Eljo’s, but alas it is no longer on Main Street by UVA. There are several good restaurants on the Mall, and it sounds like you found one of them. Hope you enjoyed your visit!

  19. @Charlottesville…that would have been something had we actually passed each other. I did notice the shoe and hat selection, very nice. I will have to check out Eljo’s the next time I’m in town. You are indeed a lucky man…. cool town and I know the general area of your farmhouse…very beautiful out that way. Maybe when we are done with the rat race up here we will set up shop in the Cville area. Enjoy the weekend.

  20. Charlottesville, are you near Staunton? You probably know about Duner’s. The fact that it’s in Ivy merits an article for Ivy Style, eh?

    Mr. Stephenson (if he’s reading): Duner’s reminds me a lot of Lahiere’s (R.I.P.)

    The fact that Ivy clothing gets lumped in with midcentury modernist stuff–ugh. Such as it is.

    I have often wondered about the relationship between “traditional” (taste in) architecture and traditional clothing–form an American perspective. Is there an abundance of tweed, corduroy, and oxford cloth among the old Georgian, Colonial, and Victorian homes that litter the East Coast and the South? I’m guessing there’s some overlap.

  21. Ivy clothing and Modernist architecture and design will always be intertwined; they grew up together. Modernism grew out of the Bauhaus and the Internationalist movements and gathered heady steam in the 1950s during the post-war prosperity.

    Like Modernism, Ivy style attire in its early days was anything but traditional; it was stylish, urbane, and en vogue. I would wager that a number of people who wear the style today would probably not have embraced it in say, 1959.

    Like the OCBD, many Modernist furniture pieces have never gone out of production, their design integrity having imbued them with a half-century of time-tested appeal to architects, designers and consumers.

    In addition to their respective aesthetic merits, both Ivy clothing and Modernist mid-century design benefit by inevitable psychological association with an amazing and fondly remembered period in history. Between 1948 and 1973 the world economy expanded faster than in any similar period before or since.

    The financial security and relative peace (outside of Korea, the Middle-East and a few minor skirmishes) gave forth an optimistic jubilance that was reflected in the design, music, art and fashions of the day.

  22. “Ivy style attire in its early days was anything but traditional.”

    This is at least hyperbolic. Beyond that, wrong.

    Don’t take my word for it. Trust the aforementioned magazine. There’s a Heyday era piece by Julian Dedman (“That Brooks Brothers Look”) that makes more than a few references to the Ivy League look as inherently traditional. I believe, if memory serves, the word “conservative” is used to describe the style. He invites us to chuckle at the truism that a college lad wearing anything else will be mistaken for a Bolshevik.

    A quote:

    “It seems that ‘The Brooks Brothers Look’ has broken out of the cracked-leather-and-brass-tacked confines of the Yale, Harvard and Princeton clubs and is spreading like the oak blight to yonder hinterlands, lending its polished luster to — horrors — the lesser breeds.”

    There may have been modernist interpretations of undarted jacket and plain front plants (isn’t there an online forum dedicated to the notion?), but the suggestion that it was “anything but traditional” is misguided, to say the least.

  23. supplementary: some recall that post-War era in rather conservative, traditional terms. For my parents and their peers, it was and always will be “the Eisenhower era.”

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