Chevrolet's 1958 film American Look is an excellent look at design from the the golden age of 20th century American design,1947-1962.
When the narrator gives us lines like "Improved styling constantly adds to the ease and grace and gaiety of American living. The things we have in America are ever-changing. The studios and workshops of our stylists put forth an endless flow of service and of artistry." he's not just championing modern design, but the American Way of Life as well.
America's first successful satellites may have been in orbit but the recession of 1958 had five million people out of work (almost 7 percent unemployment), a 31 percent drop in 1957 car sales and consumer prices rose almost 3 percent from the previous year.
That year also saw Elvis enter the Army; the rise of Khrushchev, Van Cliburn and Phil Spector; and the birth of the bossa nova, NASA, the John Birch Society, stereophonic LPs and instant noodles.
With the Cold War at its peak and global unrest, segregation, the Bomb, polio, The Red Scare the 1950s were far from what the popular imagination often holds as a simpler, more-innocent time of bland, blind conformity.
Something for you to talk about at your season three Mad Men premiere party in August.
American Look is available for download or online viewing, in three parts, at the Internet Archive.
Suggested reading: The Fifties: The Way We Really Were by Douglas T. Miller and Marion Nowak, The Way Things Never Were: The Truth About the "Good Old Days" by Norman Finkelstein, The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap by Stephanie Coontz, Diners, Bowling Alleys, and Trailer Parks: Chasing the American Dream in Postwar Consumer Culture by Andrew Hurley.