Aah... Plastic lawn flamingos, the crown jewel of 1950s kitsch. Americans have been bombarded by the stylized image of a flamingo, stamped across tacky t-shirts, jewelry you would find along beach front shops, lawn ornaments and so on. When I think of cliche and expected imagery of the tropics I envision happy cartoon palm trees and flamboyant flamingos.
QUESTION: So where did the pink flamingo lawn ornament come from?
ANSWER: Donald Featherstone in 1957. Union Products was looking for a sculptor to help create 3 dimensional lawn decorations. Prior to this step forward, the company had been creating flat, 2 dimensional pieces. Featherstone at the time was a serious sculptor but took the job opening with the company. After creating a variety of 3 dimensional pieces for Union Products, Featherstone was set with the task of creating a flamingo. It took him two weeks to create the model based off of the pictures in a National Geographic magazine and the flamingo was brought to life with new injection mold technology.
The plastic flamingos were favored for a number of reasons in 1957. For one, Americans were quickly moving out into the suburbs in large numbers. The subdivisions people were moving into had house that looked nearly identical following WWII. "'You had to mark your house somehow,' Featherstone says. 'A woman could pick up a flamingo at the store and come home with a piece of tropical elegance under her arm to change her humdrum house.'" Plus new technologies in plastics allowed for brilliant colors to be readily available to consumers.
If you'd like to read more about the flamingo lawn ornament check out these sites. Or google. Google is good too: