Places: Happiness by Design

Excerpt of Happiness by Design by Justus Nieland

A cultural history of modern lifestyle viewed through film and multimedia experiments of midcentury designers Charles and Ray Eames

Arguably the most influential American designers of the postwar period, the Eameses were a model happy couple whose iconic designed objects and design practice were exported globally as symbols of the cheery lifestyle afforded by U.S.-style democratic liberalism. Eamesian happiness, circulating through both images and objects, linked the “goodness” of the American good life to the “goodness” of so-called good design. The new, airy domesticity of good-life modernism was theorized in manifestos for postwar living, such as George Nelson’s and Henry Wright’s Tomorrow’s House: A Complete Guide for the Homebuilder (1945), and promulgated through architectural schools, banking establishments, construction industries, museums, and influential lifestyle magazines like House & Home.


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