A Mid-Century Collaboration

in: Academy of Emerging Professionals / 2 Comments
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Last year, two charming ladies in Sacramento started their own separate blogs about the restoration and living in their mid-century modern homes. It came to a point where they found each other and realized that they were duplicating work. They shared a passion for all things mid-century design. Together they made a home tour with their friends and neighbors, showing how a community was inspired to decorate and care for their homes from a unique era of architecture. More than 1500 people attended the home tour by Sacramento Modern (SacMod). People are still talking about it.

The AIA Central Valley chapter has been around since 1942. Some of the architects that designed the homes on the mid-century modern home tour are still chapter members. When these architects found out that people were once again interested in their work, I became the liaison between Sacramento Modern and these architects. So a relationship was formed.

However, I and SacMod were duplicating efforts. We ran into each other at a film screening and both mentioned that we wanted to show the film about Julius Shulman, the mid-century modern photographer. I had just finished talking to the Associate Director of AIA Long Beach about their successful run of screenings in partnership with AIA LA. I didn’t see any need to reinvent the wheel, so I proceeded to arrange a screening with the same formula. I saw this as an opportunity to share a story that focuses on an era of design that is becoming popular again. I knew that it would be interesting to the public, and attendance would not consist of just older demogrpahics.

It turns out that leasing a space capable of showing a film to a large audience costs a lot of money. It also turns out that if you show a copyrighted film in public, there are license fees. If this was any other scheduled chapter event, that wouldn’t have been an issue, but I wasn’t prepared to ask for money from a tight budget, to cater to a group that has not shown they are interested in anything other than ARE workshops.

Sacramento Modern had already made contact with the Crocker Art Museum. The museum had just reopened after expanding to more than twice the size, which afforded them new endowments and an auditorium space that seats 260. The museum, which is open late on Thursdays, was in the process of programming special events to fill the Thursday evenings. Their First Thursdays were being set aside to show films. The museum’s programming director is a fan of mid-century modern design. We booked the space (no charge) and filled the room.

I’d like to think that it’s easy for emerging professionals to organize and have meaningful events, but sometimes it takes a couple of charming ladies to make it happen.


Ian Merker

Ian is a passionate designer with a focus on detail and the use of the latest technologies. His work includes project visualization, production of documents and project coordination at MFDB Architects in Sacramento. As an advocate within the architecture profession, Ian is committed to designing high performance buildings with a soft footprint on the environment. He is a graduate of Architecture and Regenerative Studies at Cal Poly Pomona and the University of Strathclyde in the UK. Ian is patiently waiting for test results from the new computerized California Supplemental Exam.

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  1. avatar
    Ian Merker

    “Charming lady” was my first impression of her. “Passionate and inspiring leader” is also appropriate because of her strong work ethic with thorough research and interest in design, but she lives life with such marvelous exuberance that I’m gonna stick with charming lady.

  2. avatar
    Laura Wood

    Yes, Gretchen is a charming lady. With that said, first and foremost, she works her butt off herding and assembling all the SacModern information, people and efforts together. If I was to illustrate her proverbially, I’d go with “passionate and inspiring leader” in lieu of a charming lady.

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