Design & Mass Appeal/New Materials B

In the 1950’s the expansion of both the middle and industrial class brought mass media into focus. Mass media, mass culture and mass market are all inter-related. The traditional standards of “Good Design” were influence by false obsolescence. Obsolescence is used to convince consumers that they need the next “new” thing. A critic, Reyner Banham aptly described this phenomenon as a “throwaway culture” (Raizman, pg. 295)
Many industries used obsolescence to market their products. During the 50’s the biggest example of this is the automotive industry. General Motors president Alfred Sloan used annual stylizing changes to “create a vehicle “for every purse”, defining a series of gradations from efficiency to luxury in terms of visible difference…”. (Raizman, pg. 296) The number of car makers began to decrease because of the competition to promote their annual changes. Brand identification was also very important.
Advertising for cars came in many forms. Hollywood helped to show the freedom and individual expression in movies like American Graffiti. Ads in magazines and newspapers showed attractive couples either coming in from a night out or at some fabulous restaurant. These ads helped to equate luxury with cars.
Obsolescence can also be found in the model home market. Instead of different models every year, it was used to show individuality. “And like car makers, they used styling to give buyers an illusion of choice”; this pretty much sums up the model housing in the 1950’s. (Votolato, pg. 227) Consumers were offered choices to make the model homes not so cookie-cutter. Practical considerations also drew consumers. Kitchens with picture windows, attached garages and appliances tried to tip the scale of conformity.
The 1950’s was about convenience. Time saving appliances, model homes, cheap products were all the rage. How has this affected today’s culture? Do you think design in this period had a large impact on design today? Give some examples of obsolescence today. Do you think false obsolescence is a good marketing tool?