The Wonderful World of Plastics

09 House of the Future

I love plastic. I know it’s bad, and I should demand fine china or beautiful crystal, but plastic works so well and doesn’t break. In 1957, Monsanto’s House of the Future opened at Disneyland. This house is made entirely of plastic. What a wonderful idea. No natural materials, everything can be hosed down, and children can throw things or throw up and there is no damage. The architecture has a “googie” vibe, and resembles 4 mobile homes connected in the middle, but it works for me. The House of the Future thrilled guests for a decade, then it was replaced in 1967. Rumor has it that the wrecking ball bounced off the side of the building, and it was taken apart in pieces. As the narration explains, “The floors on which you are walking, the gently sloping walls around you, and even the ceilings are made of plastics.” Could anything be more wonderful?

On Being Downwardly Mobile

recent Melmac purchase, detail

At 4:30 a.m. on January 17, 1994, the Northridge earthquake shook the Los Angeles basin. My house ended up with a couple of broken windows, but no structural damage. My dinnerware did not survive. All of the Russell Wright Iroquois Casual plates were rocketed from the cabinets and slammed into the opposing kitchen wall, leaving dents where they hit. That morning, I decided to embrace plastics. Mr. McGuire says to Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate, "I want to say one word to you. Just one word. Are you listening? Plastics." He was right. Now there are good plastic dishes and bad plastic dishes. I found a remarkable set of avocado colored bowls in Tokyo, and another set of baby blue bowls in Paris. A good resource is, unsurprisingly, ebay under Melmac. Don't buy anything used, it's gross. Other people may have licked the plates or cut into them. I only buy the "in the original box, unopened" dinnerware. Much of it was purchased in the 1950s and 1960s and then left in a box in the back of a cabinet. This set is a recent find. I'm guessing 1969, 1970. I love the turquoise and green color palette, and the vaguely Mexican motif. It's rather psychedelic and hints at macrame and rust colored sofas. I know that chefs want food presented on beautiful plain surfaces, and that this is wrong, wrong, wrong. But my typical meals of turkey burgers, chili, grilled chicken and steamed vegetables look fine to me.

a tiny bowl, cup and saucer, and plate, melmac