The alternate title I wanted was also “Mod, Mod, World”.
Elle Italia, 1992 (Here.)
(F*** Yeah 60’s Fashion!)
The term “Mod” is actually short for “Modernist” which was the term avant garde Jazz musicians used to describe their new creations in the 1950’s. The style, as we know it, was originated in London via working class, foppish, homosexuals. Many middle to upper class Jewish individuals joined the cause alongside London-based East Enders. The style of the “mod” subculture was derived from Italian fashions and things worn to beatnik coffee shops. The “mod” niche co-opted much of its symbolism from Jamaican Ska Colors, African American Jazz, bespoke Italian Suits, and anti establishment ideals. The British Mod style emerged from a desire among British youth to break away from the stiffness of “The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit” and their parents’, working class clothing. Sociologist Simon Frith calls “Mod” the “first sign of a youth movement”, youths would meet collectors of R&B and blues records, who introduced them to new types of African-American music, which the teens were attracted to for its rawness and authenticity, they also watched French and Italian art films and read Italian magazines to look for style ideas. The Mod color palette usually ecompasses the primary colors (red, yellow, blue). Technically speaking, British Mods were actually part of larger gangs, traveling via scooter, and often their message was a bit violent (if not exciting). The Mods frequented clubs such as the Crawdaddy Club in Richmond, and the Flamingo and Marquee in Soho. Riffing on the symbolism of the “mod’s” color scheme and often times revolutionary mores Barnett Newman created Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue? in 1966.
Barnett Newman, Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue?, 1966.
Whereas the “mod” subculture is short for the term “modernist” many “mod” painters used bold patterns, anti-establishment techniques, and youth culture to create “modernism”. Piet Mondrian was already using primary colors to challenge past “traditional art” motifs. He was also inspired by jazz, as noted in the title of his unfinished painting Victory Boogie Woogie (1942–44).
Piet Mondrian, Composition 10, 1939–1942, private collection
Marimekko at Crate and Barrel, NYC, 2012. The design shop had its origins in the 1950’s in Finland, but it’s most iconic prints hail from the 1960’s, greatly influenced by the “mod” aesthetic.
Clearly the “mod” boldness, colors, and youth culture are experiencing a bit of a revival and resurgence in Fashion Week’s 2012 Ready To Wear Lines both by Alice + Olivia and Kate Spade’s collaboration with fashion photographer Garance Doré.
Images from Alice + Olivia and The New York Time’s coverage of Fashion Week 2012.
So how does this all translate into Interior Design? Midcentury furniture with a modular, almost futurist curvature help. Also, wallpaper in large, bold, repetitive patterns – usually with an amorphous, floral shape. The two images below actually show a subdued color palette based in watercolors and pastels.
I believe in the primary color scheme! When in doubt, buy some Alexander Calder prints here. The colors will inspired you and help to explain when a pop of yellow, or a dash of red are needed. For furniture, shop at CB2. Their whole collection has a hint of modernism that favors pops of color and bright, cheery rooms. Bold, typographic prints based in BLACK fonts also go along with the Mod look. When in doubt, anything with a Vespa or Scooter (an icon of the Mods) helps, like a time machine, to land your room in 1960.
Image found via This Isn’t Happiness.
Scans from CB2 2012 catalog.
As the mods would say, this is all so “choice”, “groovy”, “mint”, and “neat”.