Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Atomic Age Design - Beauty and The Bomb

The Atomic Age  - Beauty and The Bomb

For amazing vintage advertising prints

For collectible retro

If you're a fan of the madness of great mid-century advertising, check this out.

A brief narrative (and extensive visual) look at how this ...

Enrico Fermi, physicist

turned into this ...

The First Milliseconds of The Atomic Age, "Trinity"

and, yes, this.

1950's Barkcloth Design

Welcome to 1950's America - immersing itself in all things gloriously Atomic - from kaleidoscopic barkcloth to sleek stylish boomerang tables to an episode of The Jetsons. An amorous affair with the molecular which would ultimately shift into a universal apocalyptic dread unprecedented in human history. North American paradox at its best.

And here's where it all began. In 1939 the physicist, Enrico Fermi, succeeded in splitting the first atom. Fission - and the beginning of the scientific and technological advances that would lead to the creation of the Atom Bomb.

Essentially, the detonation of the first atomic bomb (oddly named "Trinity") ushered in what came to be known as The Atomic Age. The Atomic Era could be described as a surreal and bizarre period of atomic optimism which initially infused an entire culture with promises of the wonders of a nuclear future. And it left no stone unturned. 

This collective obsession with the alluring atom found its way into virtually every aspect of popular culture. Design driven by technology - architecture, industrial design, advertising, interior design, fine arts and entertainment. Feast your eyes - The elemental became "all".


We're in for a nuclear tomorrow.

A cheerful promise.

Boomerang and a Molecular Manhattan

Hello Down There


Atomic Design became irresistible with the use of atomic motifs and abstract organic forms finding their way into all aspects everyday America. 

The wallpaper you woke up to, the curtains you closed, the radio you cranked up, the tea towels you dried with, the counter you spilled milk on, the ashtray you filled, the games you played, the motel you heard rumours about. You get the picture.

Boomerang Barkcloth

Sounds Atomic

No Stitch Un-Sewn

Atomic Wallpaper

Another Barkcloth Beauty

The Food Basics

Hoop Chair 1955 John Hauser (Canada)

RCA goes Atomic

Beauty via The Beast

Atomic Age Gravel Art

And it's fun for the kids.

"The Nucleon" - Concept Car introduced by  Ford Motor Company 
(No worries. It will be powered by a small nuclear reactor.)

Tomorrow's "Atom" Car

Boom ... "This game is really Super"

It's more than just an atom - It's a city.

"The Spirit of God"

Reading Between the Blasts

Miss Atomic Bomb

A Nuclear Night Out

The Jetsons like it too.

"Operation Crossroads" Reception - The Atomic Cake


Meanwhile across the pond the Soviet Union pursued its own atomic technology. Runners at your marks. Ready. Set. And the race had begun.

Soviet Nuclear Lab

Dial "A" for Atomic

The Soviet Union worked steadily on its nuclear technology and conducted its first nuclear tests on August 29, 1949 becoming the second nation after the U.S. to create an atom bomb.

And though the USSR didn't seem to share the same all-encompassing aesthetic obsession with all things Atomic, who could resist that little atom's appeal?

An Atomic Stroll through the galaxy

Atomic Acrobatics

Express Post

From Romania and New Zealand ... with love.

Matchbox Art

Agriculture and The Atom

Atomic Test Tube

Wait a minute ...


It seems that while the U.S. loved exploring the marvels of Atomic energy, it wasn't too pleased that another country could possess it as well. And, slowly but surely, an ominous cloud overcast the carefree days of boomerang bobby-socks, molecular malts and a visit to the Atomic Drive-In. A national sense of unprecedented apocalyptic dread crept insidiously into the American collective consciousness.


The "Red Scare"

A Night at the Drive-In

Leave it to America to turn Fear into Fun.

"Hup, Two, Three, Duck"

Be sure to duck before you fry.

Atomic Attack + Survival = Contradiction in Terms

A Nation Prepares


Taking in the Sun before Armageddon

Let's take a look inside.

DIY Anyone?

In your own Backyard

All tucked in.

Dressing For The Apocalypse

Fall-Out Fashion

... Let's hope not.

Stay tuned for ... THE SPACE AGE


  1. Thanks for posting this. I love the collection of pictures and posters that you have compiled. I will be quoting you in a blog I am writing about furniture.

  2. Thanks for the comment, and introducing us to your amazing blog about design and history! We look forward to posting more and sharing more retrofied pictures with you.

  3. Great collection. You might like the following article by Jon Savage:

  4. Love the article and images. Would you mind if I used some of them for a fabric I am creating? I would link to your blog in the final product. :-]

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  6. Awesome stuff - very useful for my Pop Culture course unit focusing on the Atomic Age.

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