Raygun Gothic: Googie

22 Jul

Yes, wtf indeed. No this is a real thing. Raygun Gothic is a general term for retro futuristic science fiction environments. Once upon a time, from the 40s to the 60s, they imagined the future. It was bright and slick and full of raygun wielding heroes, and they proceeded to build it.

And build it they did , until the Vietnam War and the hippies created new paradigms and finally the 70s came and bummed everybody out. But while it lasted it certainly LOOKED like the future. And it was called Googie.

In 1949, architect John Lautner designed a West Hollywood coffee shop called Googies.

It was unique, futuristic with bold angles. The editor of House and Home Magazine, Douglas Haskill, saw the shop as he was driving by and stopped his car. He wrote an article about it and dubbed the look “Googie”.  Other designers inspired by the site  in turn designed coffee shops, drive through and restaurants taking the simple idea even further.

It was an architecture for a new, car oriented society. Bold angles, colorful signs, plate glass, sweeping cantilevered roofs and pop-culture imagery were desgined not to entice teh passing pedestrian, but the driver of the automobile. And in the 50s, cars, the economy, the entire future were booming.

The Soviets put sputnik into space followed by Vostok 12, which carried the first human (Yuri Garagin). Eisenhower shit himself and Kennedy made competing with the Soviets a first class priority. The space race was born.

And in California it had arrived. Much of California was still being built. Unlike the big East Coast cities, already well established and based on the architecture of the past, California was being built now, for the future. Roofs at upwards angles, starbursts, boomerangs, all identify Googie.

Googie style signs usually boast sharp and bold angles, which suggest the aerodynamic features of a rocket ship.

Editor Douglas Haskell described the abstract Googie style, saying that ” The buildings must appear to defy gravity, as Haskell noted: “…whenever possible, the building must hang from the sky.” Haskell’s third tenet for Googie was that it have more than one theme, more than one structural system. Because of its need to be noticed from moving automobiles along the commercial strip, Googie was not a style noted for its subtlety.


Posted by on July 22, 2011 in Uncategorized


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9 responses to “Raygun Gothic: Googie

  1. Tomcat

    July 22, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    I’ve head the term ‘retro futurism’ before (the future as imagined by the past), but never Raygun Gothic!


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