Automobile culture: look around you

Continuing from the last post, in which I discussed a background automobile culture and streamline design, I will now discuss one, or a few, examples of what we can see of an automobile culture just around us. Correction. I meant around me. With that, I will discuss what is available in Madrid.

I will first take on a few examples who copy exactly what the real deal was during the time in the past. What I will discuss will surround none less than… diners.

Diners were popular during the era because they were restaurants where you could find food served fast. The idea of fast food originally came from the diners, parting up from the automobile culture where high velocity mattered the most. Therefore, people got used to the idea of doing their daily schedule much faster than they usually did before, and this affected their lifestyle. Before, they had time to spend at home or in a restaurant, with homemade food that would need at least an hour to be served. A diner fulfilled their needs of eating fast in a public eating place without having to lose time back to work.

Here I will discuss two of the most famous American diners in Spain: Peggy Sue’s and Tommy Mel’s.

Peggy Sue’s is a diner franchise scattered all over Spain, bringing you American food the American way. The idea of Peggy Sue’s was also the concept of diners that were popular during the automobile culture. As you can see in the picture, the interior of the diner features dynamic elements, which include checkerboards, lines (lines under the bar, lines that circle the stool, the checkerboards that line up the wall leading to the entrance/exit, and also the stripes on the chair), and semi-bold colors (hues of pink and green, with a dash of metal grey and neutral black&white).

Having replicated the ambient that one was alive during the culture, it was best to experience the diner by being there. The music played also came from the era, and the type of food served were American food. You can even select what kind of music you prefer by paying a few coins via the mini jukebox.

Tommy Mel’s is also another popular diner in Spain. While Peggy Sue’s play along with green and pink, Tommy Mel’s main colors were green and blue (note that the colors also seemed to represent the genders; Peggy Sue with her pink and Tommy Mel with his blue). With the same concept that they bring on, it was no surprise that these two diners remain rivals.

In Tommy Mel’s we could see a figure of a woman in short clothes holding a tray of food served in the diner. I might have not mentioned this in the previous post, but the role of women during the era gradually became more and more important. During the Great Depression, it was hopeless to rely on one person (the husband) to feed the whole family, which was why women had to take up work, too. On the other hand, the Great Depression era saw the first signs of feminism, with Coco Chanel revolutionizing women’s wear using trousers and shorter skirts.

London, 1935 – Soldiers departing for Egypt from Feltham Station lean out of their windows to kiss their loved ones goodbye. (© Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS)

On the continuing decade, with the men going to war, women had to take up work to feed the whole family, as the future seemed unclear for the men might and might not come back from war. Still under the shadows of the revolution of feminism during the decade before, women liberated themselves and started cutting off their clothes into shorter clothes (although not yet as short as what we saw during the 1960s). Also, with men coming back from war and having not seen their women for quite some long time, they cherish and idolize the symbol of women as pleasure and entertainment after all the horror they experienced in war.

In short, women played great importance during the automobile culture, and helped shaped some of the most significant images of the era into our minds.

Back to the diners; seeing the logos of these diners gives us a sense of automobility. Both use dynamic and moving fonts. Peggy Sue’s used a girly and fairytale-ish type of font as their main font (suggesting the girly concept they hold), and used a very streamline-style font for its tagline, with letters that are connected with a line, and that those letters are inclined as if they are moving, a sign of the conception of velocity. On the other hand, Tommy Mel’s used bold and striking fonts as their main fonts, while, as did Peggy Sue’s, they used a very streamline-style font for the tagline, with connecting and slightly inclined letters, which could define velocity, the main concept of the automobile culture.

The automobile culture might have inspired fast lifestyle; but then, it wasn’t as unhealthy as it is today.

To conclude, I believe that the automobile culture still affects us up until today, because of the technological developments that keep on going, and the pace of life that kept on getting faster than before. Although we gradually try to slow down the pace of life to maintain a healthy lifestyle (what with the whole economic and sustainable movements going on), it is still visible that fast food holds importance to the lives of people who have to struggle to maintain the velocity of their life. Though a quick lifestyle might also mean quick death, sometimes it seem quite impossible to lower the pace.


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