HONOLULU (AP) - Tim Apicella was 11 years old when the Apollo 11 astronauts made their historic moon landing on July 20, 1969. At the time, color televisions had not yet become a standard fixture in every home but soon they would be.
The intertwined histories of space travel and TV continue to captivate Apicella, now 57. The decor in his Hawaii Kai home features metallic surfaces, glass and plastic reminiscent of the Space Age of the 1950s and ‘60s. It’s no surprise he is fascinated with Googie architecture and design, a mid-century movement that originated in Southern California and applied a futuristic aesthetic to everything from tail fins on cars to coffee shops, motels and consumer goods.
Fifty-two vintage TV sets, all in working condition, line two walls in one of the bedrooms in his home. The oldest, dating back 60 years, is from Italy. Apicella’s favorite is a Zarach TV made in London in 1969 because of its unique design and engineering challenges.
“They placed a heavy TV set into a plastic globe,” he said. “The advent of plastic changed everything. Designs took on a futuristic motif and left a lasting impression.”
Many of the TVs resemble space helmets. Transistor radios and eight-track tape players in the same shape and style are also part of his collection. Apicella said he favors items dating from 1957 to 1978.
“Materials were lighter. The introduction of fiberglass and soft foam created a whole new look - an avant-garde form of design,” he said.
“I’m hooked on design history. The Space Age seemed to influence every phase of design. The rocket ship could be found in all sorts of designs.”
After the sacrifices of World War II, Apicella explained, Americans were primed to embrace a more prosperous future represented by the sleek, modern designs inspired by advances in space travel. “And we continue to have a love affair with outer space with films like ‘Gravity’ and ‘The Martian,’” he said.
Apicella, a retiree from Seattle who volunteers with the American Red Cross, Hawaii Chapter, began his collection about 15 years ago, picking up many of the smaller items while backpacking through Europe and shipping larger pieces home. The televisions from Europe were refitted with tubes that work in the United States.
Other pieces from the same era include a Vornado fan from the 1950s.
“The designers even went out of their way to add a futuristic twist to fans that they were developing,” he said.
A sought-after 1969 orange Pierre Paulin ribbon chair that sits in a corner of his bedroom is another prized possession.
“It’s the most comfortable chair that I’ve sat in,” he said.
Apicella hopes eventually to find a design museum to acquire his collection of television sets.
“I can’t display it properly,” he said. “It doesn’t do it justice.”
Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, https://www.staradvertiser.com
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