Special Bakelite retrospective held during Cincy’s 20th Century Modern show

CINCINNATI, Ohio – The new East West Exhibit Hall at the Sharonville Convention Center held the 18th annual 20th Century Cincinnati modern design retrospective Feb. 25-26, 2012. Attendance at the annual show and sale has doubled over the past 10 years, so the event was poised to take advantage of the facility’s enlarged exhibit space. Patrons were treated to nearly 60 dealers from 10 states filling the hall with classic modernist forms – many from the century’s foremost designers.

bakelite bracelets  The 2012 Special Exhibit “Beyond Bakelite” featured modern designed consumer items manufactured from the early plastics in the pre-World War II era. The display will include fanciful Bakelite jewelry and an outstanding display of colorful Catalin radios and household goods. Photo courtesy 20th Century Cincinnati

20th Century Cincinnati celebrates the avant garde art, furnishings, architecture and fashions of the 1920s through 1970s. Formally defined as “modern” by academics in the early 1900s, these innovative design trends came to include the styles that characterized the century: Art Deco, Streamline, Machine Age, Futuristic, Mid-Century Modern and the Op Art/Pop Art eras.

20th Century Cincinnati’s reputation is firmly rooted in a quality selections of authentic vintage furniture and lighting. Show exhibitors also offer period decorative accessories such as paintings, sculptures, posters, art glass, pottery, dinnerware and textiles. Several top-shelf jewelry and apparel dealers contribute an important fashion element to the mix. Fun and funky pop culture memorabilia is icing on the cake.

This show is playful, but can also be a serious study of the era’s most important designers and architects. 20th Century Cincinnati dealers offer variety intended to fit every budget. All merchandise is guaranteed as represented by the seller.

Mid-Century credenza  Credenzas were most commonly used in the mid-century modern era as servers and for dining room storage. Those decorating in vintage styles today seek these functional pieces to accommodate their large screen televisions. This handsome example of unknown manufacture was shown at the 2010 show by Main Auctions of Cincinnati.

20th Century Cincinnati presented “Beyond Bakelite – Designs in Early Plastic” for its 2012 Special Exhibit. The exhibit took a collector’s view at the discovery and use of synthetic plastics in the first half of the century.

Mid-Century desk chair  Furniture and equipment cast-offs from shuttered factories, such as this refurbished mid-century desk chair, have become popular for reuse in contemporary living spaces.

From plain beginnings as a hard, dark material intended for industrial applications, plastics had evolved by the 1930s into a rich and colorful substance found in a variety of consumer items. By the end of World War II, a skeptical American public had totally embraced the new material, helping plastic become a symbol of Modern life.

Today’s collectors most often concentrate on either the flamboyantly carved and inlaid “Bakelite” jewelry; or, focus on the elaborately molded and colorful “Catalin” radios.

Dates for 2013 haven’t been set yet but detailed information on 20th Century Cincinnati is available from manager Bruce Metzger at 513-738-7256.

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