Streamline Moderne, sometimes referred to by either name alone or as Art Moderne, was a late type of the Art Deco design style which emerged during the 1930s. Its architectural style emphasized curving forms, long horizontal lines, and sometimes nautical elements.
As the depression decade of the 1930s progressed, Americans saw a new aspect of the Art Deco style emerge in the marketplace: streamlining. The streamlining concept was first created by industrial designers who stripped Art Deco design of its ornament in favor of the aerodynamic pure-line concept of motion and speed developed from scientific thinking. Cylindrical forms and long horizontal windowing also may be influenced by constructivism. As a result an array of designers quickly ultra-modernized and streamlined the designs of everyday objects. Manufacturers of clocks, radios, telephones, cars, furniture and numerous other household appliances embraced the concept with open arms.
The style was the first to incorporate electric light into architectural structure. In the First Class dining room of the SS Normandie, fitted out 1933–35, twelve tall pillars of Lalique glass and 38 columns lit from within illuminated the room. The Strand Palace Hotel foyer (1930), preserved from demolition by the Victoria and Albert Museum during 1969, was one of the first uses of internally lit architectural glass, and coincidentally was the first Moderne interior preserved in a museum.
The Streamline Moderne was both a reaction to Art Deco and a reflection of austere economic times. Gone was unnecessary ornament. Sharp angles were replaced with simple, aerodynamic curves. Exotic woods and stone were replaced with cement and glass.
Art Deco and Streamline Moderne were not necessarily opposites. Streamline Moderne buildings with a few Deco elements were not uncommon but the prime movers behind streamline design (Raymond Loewy, Walter Dorwin Teague, Gilbert Rohde, Norman Bel Geddes) all disliked Art Deco, seeing it as effete, falsely modern, essentially a fraud.
Common characteristics of Streamline Moderne and Art Moderne
- Horizontal orientation
- Rounded edges, corner windows
- Glass brick walls
- Porthole windows
- Chrome hardware
- Smooth exterior wall surfaces, usually stucco (smooth plaster finish)
- Flat roof with coping
- Horizontal grooves or lines in walls
- Subdued colors: base colors were typically light earth tones, off-whites, or beiges; and trim colors were typically dark colors (or bright metals) to contrast from the light base.
The Normandie Hotel, which opened during 1942, is built in the stylized shape of the ocean liner SS Normandie, and it includes the ship's original sign. The Sterling Streamliner Diners were diners designed like streamlined trains.
Although Streamline Moderne houses are less common than streamline commercial buildings, residences do exist. The Lydecker House in Los Angeles, built by Howard Lydecker, is an example of Streamline Moderne design in residential architecture. In tract development, elements of the style were frequently used as a variation in post-war row housing in San Francisco's Sunset District.
The style was applied to appliances such as electric clocks, sewing machines, small radio receivers and vacuum cleaners. Their manufacturing processes exploited developments in materials science including aluminium and bakelite. Compared to Europe, the United States in the 1930s had a stronger focus on design as a means to increase sales of consumer products. Streamlining was associated with prosperity and an exciting future. This hope resonated with the American middle class, the major market for consumer products. A wide range of goods from refrigerators to pencil sharpeners was produced in streamlined designs.
Streamlining became a widespread design practice for automobiles, railroad cars, buses, and other vehicles in the 1930s. Notable automobile examples include the 1934 Chrysler Airflow, the 1950 Nash Ambassador "Airflyte" sedan with its distinctive low fender lines, as well as Hudson's postwar cars, such as the Commodore, that "were distinctive streamliners — ponderous, massive automobiles with a style all their own."1
Streamline style can be contrasted with functionalism, which was a leading design style in Europe at the same time. One reason for the simple designs in functionalism was to lower the production costs of the items, making them affordable to the large European working class.2 Streamlining and functionalism represent two very different schools in modernistic industrial design, but both reflecting the intended consumer.
- 1923 Mossehaus, Berlin. Reconstruction by Erich Mendelsohn and Richard Neutra.
- 1926: Long Beach Airport Main Terminal, Long Beach, California
- 1928: Lockheed Vega, designed by John Knudsen Northrop, a six-passenger single engine aircraft, made famous by the use of Amelia Earhart.
- 1928-1930: Canada Permanent Trust Building, Toronto
- 1930: Strand Palace Hotel, London. Foyer designed by Oliver Percy Bernard
- 1930–1934: Broadway Mansions, Shanghai, designed by B. Flazer of Palmer and Turner
- 1931: The Eaton's Seventh Floor (including the Eaton Auditorium and the Round Room restaurant) in Toronto, Canada, designed by Jacques Carlu, located in the former Eaton's department store.
- 1931: Napier, New Zealand, rebuilt in Art Deco and Streamline Moderne styles after a major earthquake.
- 1933: Ty Kodak building in Quimper, France designed by Olier Mordrel.
- 1933: Southgate tube station, London
- 1933: Burnham Beeches in Sherbrooke, Victoria, Australia. Harry Norris architect.
- 1933: The Lawson "Zephyr" clock designed by Kem Weber for Lawson Time of Alhambra, California.
- 1933: Merle Norman Building, Santa Monica, California See also History of Santa Monica, California
- 1933: Midland Hotel, Morecambe, Morecambe, England.
- 1933–1940: The interior of Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, designed by Alfred Shaw
- 1934: Chrysler Airflow, the first mass-market streamline automotive design
- 1934: Hotel Shangri-La (Santa Monica), California
- 1935: Ford Building (San Diego, California), Balboa Park
- 1935: The De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea, England
- 1935: Pan Pacific Auditorium, Los Angeles
- 1935: Edificio Internacional de Capitalización, Mexico City, Mexico
- 1935: The Hindenburg, Zeppelin passenger accommodations
- 1935: The interior of Lansdowne House on Berkeley Square in Mayfair, London is redesigned and redecorated in the Art Moderne style and opens as the Lansdowne Club.
- 1935: The Hamilton Hydro-Electric System Building, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
- 1935: MV Kalakala, the world's first streamlined ferry.
- 1936: Lasipalatsi, in Helsinki, Finland, houses a cinema, several restaurants and cafés along with shops and offices. It was first built as a temporary building and was scheduled for demolition about a decade after its construction. However, many prominent Helsinkians opposed the demolition and, in 1998, it was designated a protected culture and arts centre.
- 1936: Florin Court, on Charterhouse Square in London, built by Guy Morgan and Partners. It became "Whitehaven Mansions", the fictional residence of Hercule Poirot, in the 1980s filming of the TV series based on Agatha Christie's mystery stories.
- 1937: Malloch Building, residential apartments at 1360 Montgomery Street in San Francisco
- 1937: B and B Chemical Company, at 780 Memorial Drive in Cambridge, Massachusetts, built by Coolidge, Shepley, Bulfinch & Abbott and added to the National Historic Register in 1982.
- 1937: Belgium Pavilion, at the Exposition Internationale, Paris
- 1937: TAV Studios (Brenemen's Restaurant), Hollywood
- 1937: Hecht Company Warehouse, Washington, D.C.
- 1937: Minerva (or Metro) Theatre and the Minerva Building, Potts Point, New South Wales, Australia
- 1937: Bather's Building in the Aquatic Park Historic District, now the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park Maritime Museum, with exhibits and social halls.
- 1937: Barnum Hall (High School auditorium), Santa Monica, California
- 1937: J.W. Knapp Company Building (department store) Lansing, Michigan
- 1937: Wan Chai Market, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
- 1937: River Oaks Shopping Center, Houston
- 1937: Toronto Stock Exchange Building, mix of Art Deco and Streamline Moderne
- 1938: Mark Keppel High School, Alhambra, California
- 1938: Normandie building, Mar del Plata
- 1938: Danum House, Doncaster, England
- 1938: 20th Century Limited, New York City
- 1939: Bartlesville High School, Bartlesville, Oklahoma
- 1939: Coca-Cola Building (Los Angeles), California
- 1939: First Church of Deliverance, Chicago, Illinois
- 1939: Marine Air Terminal, LaGuardia Airport, New York
- 1939: Road Island Diner, Oakley, Utah
- 1939: New York World's Fair
- 1939: Cardozo Hotel, Ocean Drive, South Beach, Miami Beach, Florida
- 1939 Royer Building Ephrata, Pennsylvania
- 1939: The Daily Express Building, Manchester, England.
- 1940: Gabel Kuro jukebox designed by Brooks Stevens
- 1940: Greyhound Bus Station, Ann Arbor, Michigan
- 1940: Jai Alai Building, Taft Avenue Manila, Philippines (demolished)
- 1940: Hollywood Palladium, Los Angeles, California
- 1940: Las Vegas Union Pacific Station, Las Vegas, Nevada
- 1941: Avalon Hotel, Ocean Drive, South Beach, Miami Beach, Florida
- 1942: Normandie Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico
- 1942: Mercantile National Bank Building, Dallas
- 1944: Huntridge Theater, Las Vegas, Nevada
- 1946: Gerry Building, Los Angeles, California
- 1946: Broadway Theatre, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
- 1947: Sears Building, Santa Monica, California
- 1948: Greyhound Bus Station, Cleveland
- 1949: Sault Memorial Gardens, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
- 1949: Varsity Theatre, Davis, California
- 1950: Ocean Terminal, Southampton, England (demolished 1983)
- 1955: Iowa State Bank & Trust Building, Fairfield, Iowa3
- 1957–2006: Star Ferry Pier, Central, Hong Kong (demolished)
- 1957: Tsim Sha Tsui Ferry Pier, Hong Kong
- The buildings in Frank Capra's 1937 movie Lost Horizon, designed by Stephen Goosson
- The design of the "Emerald City" in the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz
- The main character's helmet and rocket pack in the 1991 movie The Rocketeer
- Moderne architecture
- Art Deco
- Constructivist architecture
- Raygun Gothic
- Googie architecture
- Century of Progress Chicago's 2nd World's Fair (1933–34)
- Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne (1937) (1937 Paris Exposition)
- Reed, Robert Carroll (1975). The streamline era. Golden West Books. p. 278. ISBN 9780870950537. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
- Kjetil Fallan, University of Oslo, in "Aluminium – en kulturhistorie" http://www.apollon.uio.no/vis/art/2010_2/artikler/aluminium
- Lipman, Jonathan, Frank Lloyd Wright and the Johnson Wax Buildings, Courier Dover Publications, 2003 ISBN 0-486-42748-X, 9780486427485 p. 31
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Streamline Moderne architecture|
- Streamline Moderne, Flickr.
- Streamline Moderne, Decopix.
- "Streamline Moderne & Nautical Moderne Architecture in Miami Beach", Miami Beach Magazine.
- "San Francisco 1939 Modern 'Wedding Cake'", HGTV.com.