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“The Future Won’t Wait”
From Monsanto Magazine in 1960
Yesterland

 
In 1960, Monsanto Chemical Company reprinted an article from their Monsanto Magazine as an 8-page promotional booklet. This booklet is reproduced here in its entirety.

The Monsanto House of the Future had been open at Disneyland since 1957. It needed a major update in 1960—because, according to the article, “many of the things deemed ‘futuristic’ as recently as 1957 are simply ‘contemporary’ today.”

Enjoy this trip 50 years back in time. I like how the 6 million visitors to the attraction between 1957 and 1960 are referred to as “six million volunteer ‘researchers’” and as “12 million tramping feet.” Don’t miss the lists of materials and participants at the end of the article. So many trademarked chemicals!

Thank you to Yesterland reader Brian Eychner for sharing this promotional booklet.

Werner Weiss, Curator of Yesterland, January 8, 2010


Monsanto 1961: The Future Wont's Wait
 
The Monsanto “Plas­tics Home of the Future,” tested by more than 12 million tramping feet, has demon­strated the rugged practi­cality and attrac­tive­ness of plas­tics as struc­tural materials. A major restyling keeps its decor ahead of the times.
 

 
More than six million volunteer “researchers” have helped Monsanto
test this unique plas­tics structure, where

The Future Won’t Wait

Monsanto: The Future Won't Wait

New living room fur­nish­ings match flowing curves of house, feature uphol­stery and carpet of “Acrilon” urethane foam cush­ioning. Powered, revolving louvers of plastic screen beside window cast light patterns on TV-movie-stereo center along wall.

DISNEYLAND, CALIF.


MONSANTO’S “PLASTICS HOME OF THE FUTURE,” which has wel­comed some six million house guests over the past three years, attests that it’s hard to stay ahead of the times these days.

No one else has built a home quite like this one, it’s true—although numer­ous people have said they’d like to. To be sure, not many of its crystal-ball fea­tures have been duplicated on a mass-production basis. Yet a number of the exper­i­mental concepts that it introduced in 1957 already are corner-store realities.

A completely new “golden glow” interior has succeeded the original fur­nish­ings and decor, because many of the things deemed “futuristic” as recently as 1957 are simply “contem­porary” today.

Monsanto: The Future Won't Wait

From outside, new look is imparted to Monsanto’s plas­tics home by altered color scheme, exterior latex paint, window area treatment.

Structurally, the house has remained strong and sound. Its four canti­levered wings, projecting 16 feet from their supporting center core, have settled less than 1/20 of an inch per year at their outer ends. Their rein­forced-plastic skins and the rigid plastic foam sandwiched between them show no signs of wear. Monsanto engineers, who have made careful measure­ments and tests peri­od­ically, rate the house’s structural performance “outstanding.”

The new interiors, by architect Vincent Bonini, rely on lighter colors, lighter weight and a “suspended-in-air” motif to gain wide-open spacious­ness. Tables, chairs, sofas and floor coverings are custom contoured to conform to the flowing curves of the house’s molded plastic shell—a trend that will grow, Bonini believes, as houses emerge from the conven­tional cube shape and begin to take advan­tage of the freer forms made possible by modern structural plas­tics materials.

Monsanto: The Future Won't Wait

Powered refrigeration shelves, micro­wave range, ultra­sonic dish­washer with new safety-glass top, fore­ground, high­light kitchen.

Synthetic polymers—in plas­tics, paints and fibers—still hold sway through­out the “Plas­tics Home of the Future.” Some of the materials themselves are new; others exploit new patterns, textures and produc­tion processes that have been devel­oped during the early years of the plas­tics home.

New matte finishes on many of the plas­tics surfaces give them a sleek, velvety touch; new decorative tech­niques are displayed in plastic louvers, safety glass interlayers and even plas­tics sculpture. Newly developed exterior latex paint covers the house. New poly­car­bo­nate plastic makes its debut here in clear, durable dining tumblers.


The Disneyland Resort, as envisioned in 1991

Partitions in children’s room utilize folding plastic screen, lami­nated and molded plastic cabinets, honey­comb-rein­forced plastic panels.

The plas­tics home’s electrical and electronic equipment retains its far-forward look. Still off in the future, so far as the housewife is concerned, are several of the kitchen’s advanced appliances. The micro­wave range, power-operated refrig­erated shelf units and the ultra­sonic dish­washer can’t be bought from a nearby dealer yet, but appliances now on the market already resemble them to some extent.

Two-piece, molded plas­tics bath­rooms similar to those in the “Plas­tics Home of the Future” are being turned out daily, along with plas­tics lava­tories and counter sinks. As yet, though, fixtures in local stores don’t have push­button height adjust­ments to facilitate use by children, as one lavatory does here.


The Disneyland Resort, as envisioned in 1991

Decorative safety glass doors form front of master bedroom storage units; one-piece molded plastic bath­room is at right. Plastic grillwork, cabinets form room divider.

These and other holdover features combine with the new refurbishing to keep Monsanto’s exper­i­mental plas­tics home one of the most forward-looking structures anywhere.

The building grew out of four years of joint study and design work by Monsanto and the Massa­chu­setts Institute of Tech­nology. The project team took a long look at how plas­tics were being used in construc­tion in the mid-50’s and explored other ways their unique properties could be applied in the years ahead. It was decided that only a full-scale display house would demon­strate these grow­ing appli­cations both to builders and the public.


The Disneyland Resort, as envisioned in 1991

Children’s bedroom fur­nish­ings, contoured to wall curves, make use of plastic laminates, “Acrilan” and nylon fibers, vinyl floor covering, recessed plastic light panels.

Besides the 16 molded poly­ester-urethane foam sand­wich sections that make up the exterior, several other structural plas­tics applications went into the house: rein­forced epoxy support columns, lami­nated-wood beams and lami­nated safety glass were major ones. All have remained in essen­tially original condition.

Monsanto: The Future Won't Wait

Silver-storage drawers swing out from lami­nated-plastic buffet cabinet in dining area, where tumblers and dishes are plastic.

Meanwhile, bearing out the promise of the exper­i­mental home, the U. S. has been building more and more with plas­tics. Even excluding some border­line materials used in paints and floor­ing, total use of plas­tics in construc­tion during the three-year period (1956-59) leaped from 511 million to 866 million pounds. In four categories, volume more than doubled: wiring devices and controls, floor­ing, moisture barrier and insulation, and piping. Three other uses were almost twice as great in 1959 as in 1956: structural panels, plywood and hard­board bonding, and wire coating.

Monsanto: The Future Won't Wait

Powered “Alpha” chair adjusts auto­mat­i­cally to desired position, provides occupant with music, intercom facilities via built-in speakers.

All told, 23 per cent of the plas­tics made in this country now go into construc­tion, compared with 15 per cent the year before Monsanto’s exper­i­mental house was built.

The pace being what it is, the “Plas­tics Home of the Future” may soon be just one of many plas­tics homes of the present.

CHEMISTRY AND THE “PLASTICS HOME OF THE FUTURE”

Some of the materials produced by Monsanto (trademarks in italics) and its associated companies (trademarks in quotes) for applications such as those in the exper­i­mental structure include:
 
“Acrilan” acrylic fiber (Chemstrand)
Bisphenol A (epoxy resins)
Chemstrand nylon
“Gelvatex” polyvinyl acetate paint base (Shawinigan)
Lauxein casein and soybean adhesives
Lauxite urea and melamine adhesives
Lion asphalt paving and roofing products
Lion Nokorode asphalt primers and sealers
Lustrex styrene molding compounds
Lytron 680 acrylic-type latex paint binders
Maleic and phthalic anhydrides, fumaric and adipic acids and styrene monomer (polyester resins)
“Merlon” polycarbonate resins (Mobay)
Monsanto penta wood preservative
Monsanto polyethylene
Opalon vinyl chloride resins
Phosgard flame retardants
“Polyflex” styrene film and sheets (Plax Corporation)
Resimene melamine and urea formaldehyde resins
Resinox phenolic and resorcinol adhesives
Resloom melamine and urea textile finishes
Saflex vinyl butyral lami­nated glass interlayer
Scriptite melamine, urea and styrene paper finishes
Stymer vinyl and styrene textile sizes
Ultron vinyl films and sheets, flexible and rigid Urethane chemicals (Mobay)
Vuepak cellulose acetate

RESOURCES—NEW INTERIORS

INTERIOR PLANNING, FURNITURE DESIGN: Vincent Bonini, A.I.A., La Jolla, Calif.
DESIGN COORDINATION, construc­tion: Floats, Inc., El Monte, Calif.
ALPHA MOTORIZED LOUNGE CHAIR: Future Products Engineering Corp., Los Angeles, Calif
CARPETS OF “ACRILAN”: Cabin Crafts, New York City.
UPHOLSTERY FABRICS MADE WITH “ACRILAN”: Maix, Greef, Holyoke Fabrics, and Classic Weaving.
GLAS-WICH DECORATIVE LAMI­NATED SAFETY GLASS (room dividers, coffee tables): Dearborn Glass Co., Bedford Park, 111.
VINYL FLOOR COVERINGS: Armstrong Cork Company, Lancaster, Pa.
TEXTOLITE MELAMINE PLASTIC LAMINATES (cabinets, dining table): General Electric Co., Schenectady, N.Y.
DRAPERIES: Fiberglas by Glass Fabrics, Inc., Los Angeles, Calif.
MOLDED PLASTIC DRAWERS, STRATAPANEL STORAGE SYSTEM: Robert A. Schless & Co., Inc., Elizabethtown, N.Y.
REVOLVING TRANSPARENT PLASTIC LOUVERED SCREEN: Designed by John Hench, Disney­land; executed by Floats, Inc.
THERMOPANE WINDOWS: Libbey-Owens-Ford Glass Company.
TRANSLUCENT PLASTIC WALL, CHILDREN’S WING: Architectural Plas­tics, Eugene, Oregon.
FOLDING WHITE PLASTIC ROOM DIVIDER, CHILDREN’S WING: Jaylis Corp., Los Angeles, Calif.

DEVELOPERS AND SUPPLIERS OF SPECIAL EQUIPMENT AND PRODUCTS

Monsanto is pleased to acknowledge the contributions of the following companies, which designed and produced many of the advanced features seen in the complete “Plas­tics Home of the Future.”
 
American Motors Corporation (Kelvinator Division), 14250 Plymouth Road, Detroit, Michigan. Atoms for Living kitchen, a forecast of new trends in cooking, refrigeration, food storage.
Armstrong Cork Company, Lancaster, Pa. Foam-backed vinyl floor covering with noise and vibration reducing properties; epoxy adhesives for structural joining; styrene foam insulation.
Bell Telephone System, 195 Broadway, New York, N.Y. Telephone communications equipment of the future—push­button and “preset” dialing, “hands free” speakers and transmitters, caller viewing screen.
The Chemstrand Corporation, Decatur, Ala. Chemstrand nylon and “Acrilan” synthetic fibers for uphol­stery, draperies, carpeting, clothing.
Crane Company, 836 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago 5, Ill. Modular bathrooms with lavatory, tub, walls and floor molded in units of polyester plas­tics; air conditioning that filters, scents, cools and heats air of each room independently.
Libbey-Owens-Ford Glass Company, 608 Madison Avenue, Toledo, Ohio. Thermopane glazing; lami­nated safety glass with Saflex plastic interlayer printed in decorative patterns for windows, interior partitions, table tops.
Mobay Chemical Company, 1815 Washington Road, Pittsburgh, Pa. Urethane foam cores in molded walls for thermal insulation, structural strength; urethane foam cush­ioning material for furniture, floor covering pads.
National Lead Company, 111 Broadway, New York, N.Y. New latex paint made with Monsanto Lytron for exterior and interior use.
Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corporation (Textile Products Division), 598 Madison Avenue, New York 22, N.Y. Fiberglas reinforcing material for structural and interior components.
Sylvania Electric Products Company, 1740 Broadway, New York 19, N.Y. Interior lighting, including design and development of Trans-Ceiling polarized light panels, Panalescent and Mobile Dome lighting.
United States Time Company, 500 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. Clocks and timepieces.
Yale & Towne Company, 11 South Broadway, White Plains, N.Y. Special operating equipment for entrance door; hardware throughout.
Monsanto: The Future Won't Wait

Yesterland has three other House of the Future articles. Please take a look.

Monsanto House of the Future  updated Jan. 8, 2010
Homage to the House of the Future  updated Jan. 8, 2010
The Dymaxion House: a “house of the future” that you can visit today

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The Dymaxion House
Homage to the House
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© 2010 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks

Updated January 8, 2010.

Text and images from “The Future Won’t Wait,” a promotional booklet reprinted from Monsanto Magazine by Monsanto Chemical Company, courtesy of Brian Eychner.
 
Although there is no copyright notice on the booklet, the contents are assumed to be Copyright 1960 Monsanto Chemical Company.
Some images may also be Copyright 1960 Walt Disney Productions.