Charles Schridde's Motorola ads give us a look at the future that never was. See more at atomic-ranch.com
A couple enjoying each other’s company and their favorite records in this other-worldly interior. Artwork by Charles Schridde for Motorola.

In the early 1960s, Motorola hired illustrator Charles Schridde to illustrate the company’s technology featured in the homes of tomorrow. With stunning landscapes, impossible cantilevers and other fantastic features, his artwork depicts lavish structures that push the boundaries of architectural potential toward that of science fiction. Naturally, a Motorola product is at the center of each showcase home.His drawings give us a great look of what the past thought the future would look like.

This Jetsons-like home may not be offer much privacy with it’s glass walls, but glass walls must be necessary with a landscape like this.  Artwork by Charles Schridde for Motorola.

You might be asking yourself why Motorola would want to create such advertisements. To answer that, you have to put yourself in this post-WWII American time period, when Americans were feeling good about themselves and the economic future was more promising than it had been in decades.

Charles Schridde Motorola House of the Future ad
See any visual parallels between this home and the retro-cool living room in The Incredibles 2? Artwork by Charles Schridde for Motorola

Home technology companies like Motorola wanted to capitalize on optimism and position their products in consumers’ minds to show that what they were selling would relevant for the future. When consumers saw these ads in publications like Time magazine, picking up one of these electronic products was like one more step toward achieving that ultimate future.

Charles Schridde House of the Future for Motorola
In this illustration, it appears that the home is built into the side of a cliff, with the ocean’s waves coming right up to the pool’s wall.  Artwork by Charles Schridde for Motorola.

Schridde’s illustrations feature all of the classic Mid Century Modern hallmarks such as sharp lines, expressive architecture, open spaces and bold colors. The real difference is that everything is pushed past what is realistically possible and into fantastical physics, like something you would see in an a science fiction film, an Incredibles movie or perhaps the secret lair to one of James Bond’s villains. 

A big element you might notice is the actual location where these homes are built. We aren’t given any indication of a region or city, but we can see that these homes are built in some unique landscapes. These stunning environments add to the futuristic element that Schridde was going for.

Mid Century Modern Motorola ad by Charles Schridde
Who’s on first? Catch updates on the game in between laps in the pool. Artwork by Charles Schridde for Motorola.

When you look at ad above, depicting a couple watching a baseball game on tv, most of the interior decor looks attainable. There is gorgeous wood paneling, huge windows, sculptural artwork and typical mid century furniture. It could be anybody’s home if you just ignore the fact that it appears that at the exterior wall seems to be under water.

Charles Schridde Mid Century Modern Motorola Ad
Film is art. But movie watching can be an art form with a television displayed on a hanging sculptural piece such as depicted here.  Artwork by Charles Schridde for Motorola.

Another element that is prevalent in these ads is the amount of interior space. While open floor plans are a staple of MCM, Charles Schridde’s interiors are expansive.

Charles Schridde Mid Century Modern Motorola Ad
Artwork by Charles Schridde for Motorola

Of course, these homes are not intended to depict a present reality, but to inspire an optimistic vision for a potential future. Mid century architecture already pushed the boundaries of possibility, challenging convention as well as physics. Charles Schridde’s work continued in that vein, pushing architectural imagination to new heights.