Welcome to Mad for Mod!


Welcome to Mad for Mod!

My blog highlights trends in jazzy modernist design -- from soap to sofas, buildings to bags -- and is my way of staying in touch with the worldwide community of 20th century design aficionados. Notes about museum exhibitions and design festivals, book reviews, remembrances, features on objects of desire, and occasional oddball items will appear on no set schedule. Please visit often to find new surprises!
Enjoy  ~ ° ° ° ~  Judy

Monday, September 3, 2018

HIGH STYLE: Swanky TWA hotel to open at JFK airport in 2019

Remember paper tickets?

And fancy dinners, served
by cheerful flight attendants?

TWA, the airline which opened at the dawn of the Jet Age in 1962, and faded into history just months after 9/11, will reopen to much fanfare in 2019. This airline, however, will not comprise a fleet of planes, but a retro hotel fitted out with the most minute of authentic-looking details. 

Architectural Digest wrote "The TWA Hotel in Eero Saarinen's JFK Airport Terminal Will Transport You Right Back to 1962", the Associated Press swooned "Hotel at Iconic TWA Terminal Will Evoke Glamour of Jet Age" and the often lighthearted NY Daily News opined "JFK Becomes 'Real Destination with swanky Upgrade Project'."

The centerpiece of the terrazzo-tiled bathroom is a custom Hollywood 
vanity with bubble lights inspired by Philip Johnson.

Oh boy -- more little soaps and lotions for my collection!

What's with this hotel, that promises us teleportation, glamour and swank? The developers, according to a TWA spokesperson, are "reigniting the magic of Eero Saarinen’s landmarked 1962 TWA Flight Center at JFK Airport, restoring and reimagining it as a first-class hotel."  Every detail has been tested for authenticity, utility and mid-mod esthetic, including art, glassware, towels, robes and slippers. (My favorite decorative detail is the rotary phones that will be placed in each room.)

The reception desk in the TWA Lounge is designed as a step back 
 into the 1960s, when the original terminal was opened. (Sadly,
Saarinen died a year before the building's completion). 

An imaginary departures lounge

What Jet Age-inspired hotel room would be complete without its own 
fully stocked martini bar? For more pictures of
room interiors, visit

“Friendly Skies: The Art of High Altitude Travel” 
 Flight attendants' costumes from the 1940s through the 1960s will be exhibited 
 at the Peekaboo Gallery in Old Pasadena, CA August 18th, 2018 through September 23rd.  

Original-era travel posters, signage and other artwork will surround 
large-scale airport display models and other extraordinary artifacts. Also on
display will be an unrivaled quantity of stewardess and pilot gear from 
PAN AM, Braniff, TWA, United, Eastern, British Airways, and 
even the Soviet Airline, AEROFLOT.  

Beam me up, Vladimir!

The hotel features
  • 512 ultra-quiet hotel rooms with exhilarating views of JFK’s runways and the iconic TWA Flight Center
  • 50,000 square feet of meeting space that can hold 1,400 people
  • 6 restaurants and 8 bars
  • 10,000-square-foot rooftop observation deck with pool
  • State of the art 10,000-square-foot fitness facility with yoga, spinning and other amenities
  • Museum devoted to the Jet Age, TWA and the midcentury modern design movement
  • And more ...  

"At TWA, we tried to design a building in which the architecture itself would express the drama and excitement of travel. In a way, this is man’s desire to conquer gravity.” – Eero Saarinen

 ~ oOo~  

Monday, August 20, 2018

MAD FOR MOD reaches 100,000 page views!


When I started writing this blog, I mainly did it as a way
to remind myself of upcoming events and special exhibitions in
the design world. It has slowly grown from being my personal calendar to
a resource for design lovers all over the world.
As of yesterday, I had 100,000 page views!

I've written about pink flamingos, 
the role of costume design in establishing character,
New Yorker cartoons, mid-mod gingerbread houses (see above),
skyscrapers, Chihuly glass, the color pink, and much, much more.

Do you have a favorite posting or two? Please comment 
in the grey box under the word "labels", at the bottom of each posting.
Commenters will be entered in a drawing to win a
beautiful newly-published photography book about American jazz,
photos by Arthur Elgart.

~ oOo ~

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

POSTWAR STYLE: Costume as a character in "A Place to Call Home"

  • first posted 2/27/18; reposted 7/18/18
If you're missing the costume dramas that kept us entertained during 
the last decade or so -- I'm thinking of Mad Men or Miss Fisher's
          Murder Mysteries or Downton Abbey -- you might find your 
             heart's desire in A Place to Call Home,
       "Australia's little series that could."  (Sydney Morning Herald)

This series makes a meal out of period fashion and design from the 1950s, 
treating it as a quintessential character in the show. Sweet shirtwaist dresses,
twirly A-line skirts, padded shoulders, "twin sets" (a matching shell sweater 
and long-sleeved cardigan ensemble, often worn with pearls
and single-breasted coats abound as the choices for women.
For men, dapper hats (think Don Draper's classic fedora) worn with comfortably fitting full-cut, slightly drape-y suits are what's in. The prevailing design  
ethos of the era was being able to take virtually any man’s body type 
and make it look good through proper tailoring.

Below: Actor Brett Climo is perfectly appointed and
appropriately slouchy here as George Bligh, a wealthy landowner 
from Inverness with a heart of gold.

°     °     °      °     °     °

Above: vindictive, conniving villianess Regina Bligh (Jenny Baird),
 dressed to kill, in rich mauve and jet black. She
reminds me of the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz. 

 Regina was toned way down
 by three years of repentance in a psychiatric hospital. 
If you're an aficionado of the show,
you'll have noticed the dramatic change in her costumes
from bright, spotlight-grabbing primary colors to 
neutral, wishy washy ones.

Costume director Lisa Meagher
 says that she puts Regina (Jenni Baird) in florals 
when the character is "trying to be nice".

°     °     °     °     °     °     °     °     °     °
Sara Nordman, just off the boat, arriving in Australia

I've always put the show's heroine Sara (played by Marta Dusseldorp) 
above fashion, due to her history as a Holocaust survivor and her wise  
down-to-earthness. Below are a couple of her looks.

Is Sarah's lovely sweater/jumper an argyle pattern or not?
See comments section (below) to read a lively debate about this subject!

°     °     °     °     °     °     °     °     °

Below: Abby Earl as Anna Poletti,
trying (unsuccessfully) to be happy as farmer Gino's wife. 

But no ...

She's much happier being Anna Bligh,
bestselling author and elegant glamour girl.

°     °     °     °     °     °
Anna's formerly secret parents, bohemian Carolyn and 
Dr. Jack Duncan (Sara Wiseman and Craig Hall)  -- a married couple
in real life -- strike a stylish Bonnie and Clyde pose.

°     °     °     °     °     °

Family matriarch Elizabeth Bligh (played by Australian film icon Noni 
Hazlehurst) starts off in the series as a judgemental, intimidating character, 
but life experience forces her to see her homophobia and anti-Semitism for
the ugly traits they are. As her attitudes soften, so
does her wardrobe. 

°     °     °     °     °     °     °     °

Where's season 6, Lizzie?

~ oOo ~

Seasons 1-5 can be watched on Acorn.tv
Season 6 is currently beginning production. 
Update: Season 6 has completed production, and
will be aired in fall 2018.

Monday, June 18, 2018

EXHIBITIONS: Roz Chast's "Cartoon Memoirs" delights at the Museum of the City of New York (through 10/9)

Subway Sofa 
A large-scale mural created specially for the MCNY exhibition
All images ©Roz Chast, unless otherwise noted

Dear readers,
This hilarious and stellar Roz Chast show was featured at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA in the fall of 2015. I loved it, and blogged about it, and was delighted to hear that it later moved on to the Museum of the City of New York -- another favorite venue of mine.

Roz appeared in engaging conversations at both museums, speaking about her prolific career. If you missed these entertaining talks, you can see a video of her 2015 event at the Norman Rockwell Museum here.


There are some artists who move us with their wisdom and unique perspective, and others who amuse us with their wit. Some uplift us with their humanity, or perplex us with their inscrutability. It's the rare artist who succeeds in doing all of these at once. One of them is New Yorker cartoonist and author Roz Chast, whose prolific output is currently on display at the Museum of the City of New York. Cartoon Memoirs is simply a "mustn't miss" show. We could all use some laughs right about now!

Above: Roz Chast at book signing, following 
a most entertaining talk about her life & career
NRM, Stockbridge Mass., July 9, 2015
Photo by Michael Schonbach

Below is the first Roz Chast cartoon I ever saw, 
published in her 1984 book Parallel Universes
I knew from that moment that I had found a kindred spirit.

Chast brought her first submission, a portfolio of sixty 
drawings, to the New Yorker in 1978. Much to her surprise, Little Things 
was chosen for publication by the cartoons editor. (Some regular readers 
were appalled, and one inquired whether the magazine owed money to Chast's family!)

Over the years, Chast's cartoons have become one of the most beloved features of the magazine. Some of her favorite subjects are greeting cards, book jackets, UFO's, 
gizmos, room interiors, creepy medical conditions, tombstones, 
and -- of course -- family dysfunction.

Her images are filled with a barely controlled hysteria that seamlessly mixes
madcap humor and all-too-relatable anxiety in equal measure. What fun it is to 
wander through a museum and hear peals of laughter 
coming from all the rooms of an art exhibition!

The exhibition also includes some of Chast's hooked rugs and Ukrainian Easter eggs, 
(pysanky), with which she says she was "obsessed" for a couple of years.

Hello, 2015
hand-hooked rug, wool, burlap

Some awfully cute pysanky

"With their brilliant colors, rendered smooth and glossy by a polyurethane topcoat, Ms. Chast's eggs are extraordinarily lovely -- glorious jewel-toned objects whose aesthetic 
lies somewhere between Fabergé and Dr. Seuss."
... NY Times, November 2004

Chast's first New Yorker cover, above, was published in 1986.
She sees it as a "family tree" of ice cream. (Her father thought it 
portrayed a doctor pointing out foods that should never, ever be eaten.)


She has penned more than 1000 drawings and numerous covers for the New Yorker over the past thirty years. Above left is a representation of her hand painted pysanky collection. Above right: some fantastical seed packets.

And ... ta da ... The Book!

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, Chast's graphic memoir of growing up in Brooklyn as the only child of hypochondriac, affection-withholding parents, and eventually caring for them during their declining years, is an instant classic. Among many, many awards and accolades, the book was selected as one of The New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of 2014. 

The full contents of Can't We Talk ... are displayed at the MCNY's exhibition. 
You can read the NY Times book review here.
The Guardian's review is here.

"The Wheel of Doom", a major laugh-getter at the exhibition,
was originally rejected by the New Yorker for publication in the magazine.
Chast spoke briefly about the rejection that cartoonists - even famous ones - must endure.
"If there's ANYTHING else you can do for a living besides this," she jokes, "DO IT!"

During the first weekend of April 2016, Roz Chast took up residence on the museum's third floor
to create "Subway Sofa," a painting that welcomes visitors to her exhibition. 

"Featuring the cramped comfort of NYC apartments and the horrors of subway 
commuting, it's the perfect foray into a show that highlights 
the absurdities of NYC life in hilarious cartoons."

See video of the artist at work here.

That's all, folks!

~ oOo ~