In anticipation of the World’s Fair this coming May in Milan, we are taking a look back at the Brussels World’s fair from 1958 in which the USA made a big impact with its modern living model and how the “American Way of Life” was adopted by Europe.
The 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels was the first after the 2nd World War. With over 45 million visitors, it turned out to be a mass event. The fair highlighted the boom years of the 50s, the breakthrough of modern consumer society in Western Europe. The USA set an example in modern living and was represented in a see-through floating pavilion, whose modern architecture itself was already a metaphor for modern society which had successfully overcome the post-war period. After years of destructive war, our modern lifestyle and dependence in commodities was born: TV, Cars and High Fidelity, supermarkets, shopping malls replaced the corner shops. While modern apartments in the “suburbs” with fitted kitchens, appliances and machines for household chores became the norm.
“A society in transition” America presented not only its success but also its lack of fear to address social and cultural issues. “America the Beautiful” a documentary showing the charisma of the “American Way of Life” debuted in a large Circarama (360-degree screen). The director Shirley Clarke was later awarded an Oscar and filmed 25 more short films that were shown in the exhibition.
Oil and nuclear energy which were major themes in the Brussels World’s Fair were preliminary signs of how necessary both would become to satisfy the hunger for energy and provide the fuel for the modern lifestyle.
Our showreel film shows the example of America and the reception of it in Europe.