On a recent trip to Los Angeles, this blog writer was fortunate enough to uncover and see many examples of a wondrous feat of architecture. Googie Style; an inspiring and colourful chapter in the architectural history of L.A.
It’s bold, it’s bright, it’s relatively kitschy… but it’s a bucket load of fun. Originating in the modern architecture age in the early 1940’s, the style was heavily influenced by the rise of car culture, the Space Age and the Atomic Age. Visual references in the style to all of these are obvious.
Classified by its (perhaps now) garish use of upswept roofs, curvaceous and geometric shapes. The use of motifs inspired by the aforementioned ages, atoms, flying saucers, stars etc make the style whacky and pretty entertaining!
Generally accepted as being brought about by the influential American architect John Lautner (of organic Californian architecture fame), in the designing of “Googies”, a café in West Hollywood, the name derived from a nickname of the café owner.
Along with the obvious references to happenings in culture at the time, Googie’s bright colours, high-signage and neon lights were used as a way to attract customers to establishments, with car ownership on the rise and population residence was spreading to the suburbs, Googie was used as a way to get businesses noticed, and people out of their cars.
Unfortunately, like many eras of architecture it wasn’t until much after its time was Googie style appreciated, and many iconic Googie buildings were knocked down, including the originating “Googie’s” – in 1989.
Keep a look out for Googie: that’s what it’s there for.