Friday, August 8, 2008

Building the World of the Jetsons

There is little in mid-20th century popular culture that epitomizes happy retro-futurism more than the original twenty-four episodes of television series The Jetsons. One of the defining characteristics that creators Hanna-Barbera infused in the show was an architectural style heavily influenced by the Googie designs of countless commercial buildings and establishments that were popular throughout the 1950s and early 1960s.

According to Wikipedia, "Features of Googie include upswept roofs, curvaceous, geometric shapes, and bold use of glass, steel and neon. Googie was also characterized by space-age designs that depict motion, such as boomerangs, flying saucers, atoms and parabolas, and free-form designs such as "soft" parallelograms and the ubiquitous artist's-palette motif. These stylistic conventions reflected American society's emphasis on futuristic designs and fascination with Space Age themes." Two of the most prominent surviving examples of Googie are the Seattle Space Needle and the Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport. The designs of those two structures in particular inspired much of the background architecture found in The Jetsons.

As an ongoing feature here at Boom Pop!, we are going to showcase many of the clever and fun retro-future designs found in those original episodes of The Jetsons that aired during the 1962-1963 television season. First up, two buildings representing the business side of television itself.

Asteroid TV Productions appeared in the episode "Elroy's TV Show."

The home of station KLMN was featured in the episode "Elroy's Pal."

Both structures have a base drawn very directly from the aforementioned Theme Building. The sign for KLMN is distinctly reminiscent of Googie-style signs used frequently by shopping centers, motels, restaurants and bowling alleys.


Cory Gross said...

I'm looking forward to this series! For some reason I haven't quite figured out, I'm a fan of Googie architecture and an insatiable photographer of 1950's and 60's business signage.