Heavy Pagan Pottery: Denby Tableware

A strange talisman of British middle- and lower-middle-class aspirations of the 1960s and 1970s, Denbyware—the costly, absurdly heavy, hard-wearing (read, impossible to rid yourself of or destroy) brand of British tableware famed for its dun-colored hues, threatening shapes, and cranial-trauma patterns—was for a time the ne plus ultra of performative provincial socializing…

“A Closer Look”: HBO Feature Presentation Sequence, 1982

Earlier HBO idents had been relatively simple affairs, the kind of simply animated and crudely soundtracked bumpers you might see on your local UHF station’s movie revue. But this bumper—known here as “HBO Theater,” although it would eventually be titled “HBO Feature Presentation” when broadcast in 1983—combined live actors, models, motion control cameras, animation, and a full orchestra soundtrack….

The Love Bug: ‘How a Baby Is Made’, 1971

How a Baby Is Made was the English language translation of Danish psychotherapist and “sexologist” Per Holm Knudsen’s children’s picture book Sådan får man et barn, published in Denmark in 1971. After winning the Danish Ministry of Culture’s children book prize in 1972, the rights were acquired in Britain where Piccolo Books, the children’s division of paperback publisher Pan, published it the following year…

“Unity, Precision, Thrust”: The NASA Graphics Standards Manual, 1975

n the mid-1970s, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration was in a period of transition. The final manned Apollo mission to the Moon, Apollo 17, had returned to Earth in December 1972; no further Moon landings were planned. NASA had recently kicked off their Skylab experiments in short-term orbital space station living (and détente-inspired collaboration with the Soviets), as well as announcing a reusable fleet of Space Shuttles…

“Spacy Spheres and Funky Shacks”: The Otherworlds of 1971’s ‘Domebook 2’

In the spring of 1971, it seemed everyone on the fringes of mainstream society in North America was trying to build geodesic domes: soaring gridwork domes made of plastic and steel, of wood, of concrete. Inspired by technocratic engineer-turned-counterculture guru and geodesic dome evangelist R. Buckminster Fuller, hundreds of back-to-the-land hippies sought to use his elementary architectural example…