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Shop America: Mid-Century Storefront Design, 1938-1950 Hardcover – March 12, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 246 pages
  • Publisher: Taschen; First edition (March 12, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 3822842699
  • ISBN-13: 978-3822842690
  • Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 1.3 x 13.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #746,351 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

The editor: Jim Heimann is Executive Editor for TASCHEN America in Los Angeles and the author of numerous books on architecture, popular culture, and Hollywood history including TASCHEN's bestselling All-American Ads series.

From the Author

Steven Heller, the art director of the New York Times Book Review and co-chair of the School of Visual Arts MFA Design program, is the author of over one hundred books on design, popular culture, and satiric art. In addition to writing for over a dozen TASCHEN titles, his recent books include Design Literacy Second Edition, Stylepedia, and The Education of a Graphic Designer.

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Customer Reviews

The essence of the book is more than ninety ideas for storefronts created by the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company.
Robin Benson
It is chocked full of great artists renderings, plans and photos of store design and showcases both what we were and what we hoped to be.
D. Jones
This book is a must purchase for all enthusiasts of the period as well as for contemporary architects and designers.
Marco Antonio Abarca

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Marco Antonio Abarca VINE VOICE on April 28, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In the midst of the Great Depression, American Business adopted an American form of modernism that heralded a new age of technology and progress. This period of design history is sometimes called, "Machine Age", "Streamline Modern" or "Midcentury Modern." This belief in the spirit of progress can be seen in almost all American design of this period.

"Shop America" adds to our understanding of the time by focusing on store front design. American glass companies produced beautifully illustrated catalogs that promoted the use of glass and modern building materials. These catalogs inspired architects and small business owners to create store fronts that embraced the progressive spirit of modernism.

When many of us think of the 1940's and 1950's, we think of a conformist age best understood by old television shows like Ozzie and Harriet and Father Knows Best. However, a book like "Shop America" also demonstrates that American business and consumers of the time were willing to adopt a bold modernist vision. Although the designs in these books are 50-60 years old, they are still very fresh and exciting.

This book was produced by the German Publisher, Taschen. Like all Taschen books it is a very good value. It is a large format book with very high production values. This book is a must purchase for all enthusiasts of the period as well as for contemporary architects and designers. Highly recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Robin Benson on March 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Turn the pages of this fascinating book and you're window shopping on Main Street in the late forties, plenty of consumer goods are just a touch away thanks to large glass windows. The essence of the book is more than ninety ideas for storefronts created by the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company. Each has an artists rendering, sometimes a technical detail or floor plan and technical information about the glass used.

It is the exuberant artwork that makes the book come alive. They capture a mid-century of elegant shoppers seduced by Carrara glass and Aluminum. Virtually every store has an overall streamline design frequently mixing atomic motifs and the final individual touch is the name in a modern sans type or a casual script for a ladies retail unit. Strangely there is no actual reference to the Pittsburgh PGC or the artists though E A Lundberg has his signature on many of the illustrations.

This is a large book (handsomely designed and printed) that fortunately makes all the wonderful renderings large too. In the first few pages Steve Heller contributes an overview of storefront design illustrated with black and white photos of real stores in large American cities. Predictably few of them are as flamboyant as the concept artwork in the glass-makers sales material.

*** FOR AN INSIDE LOOK click 'customer images' under the cover.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Chris D. VINE VOICE on January 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book has some great illustrations, but I was disappointed to find mostly different elevational drawings with one fabulous color illustration for each project. I was hoping to find much more depth and maybe some photos of the actual shops with some stories of the shops themselves. Instead I found that this book was just "suggestions" of what could be with no factual details of if ANY of the stores were actually built! I'm sure if you are an architect this book is an invaluable resource. I'd love to see any these shops, which is why I am so disappointed to find nothing but drawings. If any of these shops or buildings still exist today the book does not hint at where you would be able to find them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Talvi TOP 100 REVIEWER on August 31, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I love midcentury design and had high expectations for this book. It is a large book and the images well displayed. But after the 10th or so page, it becomes apparent that it is nearly one hundred pages of variations on the same picture - the one on the cover. This uniformity in presentation should have made the book feel well researched; however, it's just visual candy and no substance. Just a large picture, some random info about materials to make that store front, and that's about it. Nothing about the architects, designers, clients, purpose, etc. Even the drawings look to have been done by the same person - and not necessarily a very creative one. I kept reading through the text in the beginning wondering if it was a compilation of ideas by a modern design student as part of a master's design thesis on mid century store front design. I think, but I am still not sure, that these are authentic designs from the period and not modern recreations. It feels like a modern day artist took old drawings and images and then distilled them so that you see the same 'what a storefront for xx would look like". So many don't even seem remotely practical.

Really, it feels like an idealized modern presentation of the same random storefronts, redressed. There's no context for the building in which the storefronts would be placed - the only parameter changing is the product to be sold. The book reads like this, "Here's a storefront idea for a florist." Here's a storefront for a idea for a shoe seller. Here's a storefront idea for a jeweler." It gets old fast.

I think the authors may have forgotten the reason to have a book like this - nostalgia and to get a feel for the time. That is lost in the book - there's just so little context other than a brief opening essay. I got bored seeing the same window redressed 100 times - perhaps I just wanted actual examples of implementation or use - even if only drawings as well.
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