The Architecture of Hope

My husband and I watch a lot of HGTV. We predict whether homeowners will Love It or List It; we marvel at the amount of work that gets done on Flip or Flop. On one episode of Property Brothers, one of the hosts asked the homeowners with humor, “What do you even call this style?” To be fair, the word “style” itself might have been generous among their son’s sports clutter, the wife’s expansive knickknack collection, and the husband’s beloved man-cave. It reminded me of my own decorative style in the 15 years of apartment living between college and home ownership, a style my dad lovingly coined “early poverty.”

Homeownership changed all of that. The first home I bought for myself on the north side of Indianapolis actually did have a style, a style with an official name: mid-century modern. And though I am certainly no modernista myself, I soon found that the style fit me. But not for the reasons I would have expected.

In  the years after World War II, politicians and world leaders weren’t the only ones looking for a new way to see the world. Architects and designers, influenced by the “organic architecture” of Frank Lloyd Wright, as well as the German Bauhaus movement, began incorporating features like floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding glass doors into residential designs as a way for families to interact with the world from the privacy of their home. No one had smart phones or laptops in those post-war days. Few people even had televisions. But these “windows to the world,” along with open-concept floor plans, hinted at the degree to which people would increasingly conduct themselves vocationally, socially, economically, politically—even spiritually—without ever leaving the house.

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