Thursday, March 10, 2011

Interiors of Tomorrow

Recently, I was reading about design legend Eleanor Brown, the founder of McMillen Inc., the famed New York design firm that was established in 1924 and is still in business today. Brown achieved recognition by designing the most prestigious homes in the country.

I was fascinated to learn that during the Depression, Eleanor Brown, upon the suggestion of fellow McMillen Grace Fakes, decided to create a series of miniature rooms. The models presented fully developed rooms for people to view and reflected the refinement of the McMillen design.

Upon completion, the rooms were first exhibited in 1932 at the McMillen firm headquarters, a townhouse. That mini presentation certainly left a big impact. The exhibit captured the attention of thousands of people who viewed the miniature rooms before going on tour to many North American cities. The tour was titled Interiors of Tomorrow.

Eleanor Brown viewing the miniature rooms at the opening of the exhibit

 Painted glass by the muralist Jan Juta (you can see him in the first photo on the right)

McMillen’s progressive thinking was apparent by:

- Choosing to display models, a step to translate ideas into real materials, colors, and finishes. Brown and Fakes understood that people usually get a better sense of a project with three-dimensional models as compared to two-dimensional drawings.

- Moving around the country, displaying the work like a museum’s traveling exhibition, and promoting their designs and business in a relaxed informal manner. A traveling show house, so to speak…

- Keeping its valued employees who worked hard to create the miniature rooms- none of the staff was laid off throughout the Depression.

- Donating revenue generated by the exhibit to charities.

I wonder- are these rooms still on display at McMillen’s?

Sixty Years of Interior Design by Erica Brown
Photos 4,5 photography by Emelie Danielson

5 comments:

little augury said...

I'm sure they are. I have a wonderful book dedicated to the firm. I will look into it for you. pgt

ArchitectDesign™ said...

everyone loves a miniature!

Picture of Elegance said...

Thank you pgt...

quintessence said...

Love these!! What a wonderful idea!! I'm going to have to forward this to my sister - she just loves miniatures.

Renée Finberg said...

i am with the architect....
everyone does love a miniature!

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