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flookerang

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About flookerang

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  1. Call for Reminiscences! The Chrysler Autofare

    I get the sense looking through folks' commentary here as well as Chrysler's own marketing materials that perhaps the company and the pavilion's designers realized they couldn't compete directly with Ford or GM in terms of exhibition design alone; that's likely why they geared the show specifically towards kids, as a way to break into that "market." Futurama still won out, though, for many visitors. Critically, GM and Ford garnered more praise than Chrysler with the exception of Vincent Scully's article "If This is Architecture, God Help Us" for LIFE. He praised the Autofare as "the surprise of the Fair. It is pop art at its best, and presents Detroit with welcome wit and irony.” I've been thinking a lot about the pavilion relative to "pop" design and postmodernism, and how it fits into Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown's "duck versus decorative shed" binary, as well as American vernacular and roadside architecture more broadly (not to mention past examples of oversized-object architecture at the fairs (Underwood's giant typewriter in 1915; Radio Flyer's "Coaster Boy," the Havoline motor oil thermometer, and the Time and Fortune buildings in 1933; and National Cash Register and Coty Cosmetics in 1939). I'm glad you mentioned the quiz game--details have been elusive! Based on my research here, it seems like it was more of a true informational display during the '64 season, then in '65 became a hybrid of trivia and musical chairs. Everybody seems to remember the model turbine car, though--sounds like you scored big. Was the turbine car (along with its miniature version) the biggest draw for you as a repeat visitor?
  2. Call for Reminiscences! The Chrysler Autofare

    Thanks for sharing! I believe that was the "Dragonaut"--it was green in '64 then repainted red and pink for the '65 season.
  3. Call for Reminiscences! The Chrysler Autofare

    Thanks for your response! The pavilion was designed for "the whole family" but specifically for kids. I see this as partially a response to Disneyland and new multi-generation amusement spaces but also the increased attention paid to children as a demographic in the middle of the twentieth century. In 2012 MoMA staged the show "Century of the Child, 1900-2000," which touched on a lot of the themes present at the Autofare (and the fair as a whole). The increasing importance of children and also the idea of play were two influences at Chrysler, I think. Its design director Irving Harper (of George Nelson's office) also belonged to a generation of designers that included the Eameses, Alexander Girard, Isamu Noguchi, Paul Rand and others who emphasized play as part of their design process and output (and are also the subject of the Milkwaukee Art Museum/Denver Art Museum's current show "Serious Play," coincidentally!). Harper left Nelson's office in 1963 and it's unclear to what extent he was involved with the content of the pavilion, but looking at his blueprints and drawings, it seems like the structures were built mostly as he and his associates designed them. I appreciate your point about exploring the pavilion. The choose-your-own path idea seems to me to have presented visitors with a bit more control over their visit than single-structure pavilions that guided folks through exhibits at a set pace and in a set order. Maybe also part of the Disneyland thing? But it sounds like you might have been more interested in a sort of total-package tour that presented a more cohesive experience. The assembly line ride, I agree, seems like a watered-down version of the conventional factory tour, and the workmen definitely have a child-like quality to them. I'd be curious to know what riders saw from their little Simca cars, I feel like I've only seen photos of the mounting/dismounting platform and workmen figures (maybe that's all there was to it?). The rocket was indeed meant to symbolize Chrysler's involvement in US space and missile programs so point about real rockets being on display elsewhere/the display failing to connect with the corporation's activities is an interesting one. On the forum I've been able to put some of the pieces of the puppet show together and have even found a few of the Bil Baird marionettes for sale on the net, but am hoping someday to find video/audio of the performances. Jim Henson was asked to submit concepts for the show but they ultimately went with Baird; Henson ended up making characters for SKF, not too far from Chrysler. Very grateful for your thoughts, thanks again!
  4. Salutations! I'm a graduate student of design history in New York and am currently writing my thesis about the Chrysler pavilion (the Autofare) at the 1964/65 NYWF. I've conducted research at the New York Public Library and at Herman Miller, where the pavilion's design director Irving Harper's papers are held, but the photos, ephemera, and recollections shared here have been tremendously helpful as I suss out both the pavilion's built environment and its popular and critical reception. I'm posting today in the hope that some of the "VIPs" who visited the Autofare might be willing to share some specific memories with me. In particular, I'm curious about the following: What did you think about the Autofare's architecture/design? What were the main themes you felt it encapsulated? How did you interpret the exaggerated proportions, bright colors, and cartoonish elements? How did you interpret the Chrysler pavilion relative to Ford and GM's exhibits? What did you perceive to be the pavilion's visual style? Did you know much or anything about pop art, design, or architecture when you visited the fair? After the fair? Did you or your family drive a Chrysler? Did the pavilion foster any brand loyalty? Did you love the Autofare? Hate it? Why? What were the best parts? The worst? How did your age impact your experience at the Autofare? I'd love to hear any and all thoughts on the Chrysler pavilion, and am excited to share some of the things I've learned, too. Looking forward to discussing--thanks for your insight!
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