Paradise Lost

When I was twelve, I thought the coolest building in the world was the Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World. It was brutalist and a monorail drove through it. When you are a twelve year-old boy living in Reno, Nevada, these are the criteria points used for architectural criticism. Today, I still think the Contemporary Resort is cool, but now for the Mary Blair mural in the Grand Canyon Concourse. The Contemporary has a sleek boutique W Hotel feel. That’s great if you like that, but I spend enough time in W Hotel rooms, so I’ve moved on to Disney’s Yacht Club. My clothing choices fit in better there also.

When I see images of the Contemporary when it first opened in 1971 it looks like the most magnificent vacation spot ever. It’s so groovy and chic. The color palette of avocado, burnt orange, brown, and butter yellow is magnificent. There was a happening supper club, the Top of the World, with live entertainment in the style of Lawrence Welk. The disco had a nifty Logan’s Run vibe. I imagine happy men dressed in their finest maroon leisure suits and women in their floor length lime green chiffon dresses dancing to KC and the Sunshine Band, but a more mellow version. I want to go to a conference where the dining room is all orange and we sit at tables with ochre table cloth. But most importantly, there are giant acrylic trees in the lobby. I say to all the tasteful boutique hotels out there (and the current Contemporary Resort), “Dump the good taste beige and walnut. Put in autumn toned acrylic trees and psychedelic colored Navajo patterned carpet.”

Check out our friends at www.retrowdw.com for more and better.

Contemporary Resort color palette, 1972

Sean Adams

Sean Adams is the Chair of the undergraduate and graduate Graphic Design Program at ArtCenter, founder of Burning Settlers Cabin studio, and on-screen author for LinkedIn Learning/Lynda.com He is the only two term AIGA national president in AIGA’s 100 year history. In 2014, Adams was awarded the AIGA Medal, the highest honor in the profession. He is an AIGA Fellow, and Aspen Design Fellow. He has been recognized by every major competition and publication including; How, Print, Step, Communication Arts, Graphis, AIGA, The Type Directors Club, The British Art Director’s Club, and the Art Director’s Club. Adams has been exhibited often, including a solo exhibition at The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Adams is an author of multiple magazine columns, and several best-selling books. He has been cited as one of the forty most important people shaping design internationally, and one of the top ten influential designers in the United States. Previously, Adams was a founding partner at AdamsMorioka, whose clients included The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Disney, Mohawk Fine Papers, The Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, Richard Meier & Partners, Sundance, and the University of Southern California.