Designed for HI-Fi Living: The Vinyl LP in Midcentury america
Best books of 2017 –the Financial Times
Best music books of 2017 –Vinyl Factory
Holiday Book List 2017 –Docomomo US (Committee for the Documentation and Conservation of the Modern Movement)
"Before album covers were reduced to tiny icons on smartphones, they were bold, colorful pieces of art, as much cultural indicators as protectors for the records inside.”
–Wall Street Journal, Alexandra Wolfe
"One of the smartest books we've ever seen on album cover art – a lavish full color volume that not only presents loads of classic images, but also has plenty to say about them as well!" –Dusty Groove, Chicago
"an excellent example of consumer research subtly linked to political ideologies and shifting consumer attitudes and tastes." –Times Higher Education, Les Gofton
"fascinating" –The Daily Heller, Print Magazine, Steven Heller
"Terrific. Makes a great gift for the music lover who loves midcentury design and travel." –KCRW Rhythm Planet, Santa Monica
"an eye-opening, colorful, often humorous look back at a time when the vinyl LP was not only becoming a commonplace item in the American home, but also reflected the times we lived in, and our hope for the future." –Pop Matters, Chris Ingalls
Designed for Hi-Fi Living is beautifully illustrated with almost 150 full color images of fun and rare records from the 1950s and 1960s that will surprise and entertain readers interested in midcentury design, retro styles, and nostalgia, as it taps into the booming vinyl revival. Colorful cover art, revealing liner notes, and sensational sounds provide inspiration for reflecting on design, media, visual culture, and history. The book maintains a satisfying balance between celebration and critique, and between enthusiasm and evaluation.
Here is a brief selection of LP covers from the book. We describe each one to tell a story of postwar America.
Offering a fascinating glimpse into the postwar imagination, the first part, “Home,” explores how the American home entered the frontlines of Cold War debates and became an entertainment zone—a place to play music, mix drinks, and impress guests with displays of good taste. The second part, “Away,” considers albums featuring music, pictures, and tourist information that prepared Americans for the jet age as well as the space race.
“This extraordinary and brilliantly curated book reveals how the tropes of cultured living were disseminated through the universal medium of music decades before the era of ‘designer pop’. Revisionary and essential.” —Peter Saville, artist and designer; founder and art director of Factory Records; author of Designed by Peter Saville
“What Walter Benjamin is to the Parisian arcades of the nineteenth century, Borgerson and Schroeder are to the midcentury American living room. Through the magical window of the LP cover they let us rediscover the phantasmagorias of postwar America. I love this book.” —Daniel Birnbaum, Director of Moderna Museet, Stockholm; contributing editor of Artforum
“Exploring the secret life of records, Borgerson and Schroeder comb the discarded and recovered bins of thrift-store vinyl for clues to a hidden agenda. At once hilarious and penetrating, their astute observations and thoughtful groupings cut across genre, label, and designer to reveal uncanny continuities that link jazz, rock, easy listening, self-help, exotica, folkloric, and other impossible to pin-down modalities in an eye-popping slide show of the mid-century American imaginary.” —John Corbett, writer and curator; author of Vinyl Freak: Love Letters to a Dying Medium and A Listener’s Guide to Free Improvisation
Designed for Hi-Fi Living: The Vinyl LP in Midcentury America, by Janet Borgerson and Jonathan Schroeder.
Published by the MIT Press in August 2017. 440 pages. 147 full color illustrations. Coming out in paperback, September 2018!