Salt Lake City’s design scene may not have a national reputation, but Creede Fitch of Grassroots Modern is doing his part to change that. The SLC-based blog puts a decidedly local spin on its coverage of contemporary American style, but Creede’s love of affordable design makes it a great read for frugal modernist junkies everywhere. We talked with Creede about Utah, furniture idealism, and learning how to decorate on your own…
What’s your background, and why did you first start Grassroots Modern?
The truth is I don’t have any design background at all. Just out of high school I worked at an architectural office for a few years, but I ultimately decided to go into nursing. I’ve been working full-time in healthcare ever since. I started Grassroots Modern in 2005 when I first realized that I was head over heals in love with modern design and devastated that I couldn’t afford any of it.
The blog was initially a place to collect affordable modern ideas and document the construction of my first home, much of which was DIY. My same passion for modernism exists today, and I am currently working on becoming a real estate agent so I can help people find great homes. I’m also part of a local Mid Century Modern preservation group SLModern.
What quality is it about Mid-Century Modern design that appeals to you so strongly?
I think that the whole Mid Century Modern movement was a very optimistic time for designers in America. They truly felt that they could make people’s lives better by designing better products. Very few companies carry that same idealism today. The economics of the time were very favorable to making modernism affordable, whether it was MoMA’s affordable furniture competition or developers like Eichler creating large neighborhoods of modern homes to meet the housing needs of the time.
What sets the design and art scene in Salt Lake City apart? Any favorite local haunts?
Salt Lake City has a surprisingly vibrant art scene, as well as a rich Mid-Century Modern architectural history. The city is just at the right size that it can support a significant group of interested people, but small enough that you still feel like you are an integral part of something important.
As far as local haunts, The Green Ant has been a long time stalwart in the community and the go to place for Mid Century Modern furniture. I was lucky enough to do an interview with the owner Ron Green in the October edition of Dwell Magazine.
Could you give an example of a Grassroots Modern post that surprised you — either by being crazy-popular, crazy polarizing or surprisingly lame?
The biggest surprise for lame posts has been my post about Voss water. Really I just liked the bottle and wanted to share about it, then all of a sudden I had hoards of people commenting on how obsessed they were with it. For a while that post was the number one result on google for Voss Water!
Last year I did a little DIY vintage cage light tutorial that has been surprisingly popular as well.
How have your thoughts on design evolved since you first started Grassroots Modern?
I used to think it was absurd to pay a lot of money for a piece of furniture, and that it was totally unjustified. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m financially better off now, or just because I have more appreciation for what really goes into a “designer piece”. I’ve written a couple rambling attempts to describe my inner conflict including this one here . I’ve also become fiercely supportive of all the up and coming American furniture designers and builders like Studio Dunn and Volk. I have a huge amount of respect for these guys and I truly think the whole Modern Americana movement is the next big thing to affect modernism.
Give two pieces of advice to the person who needs to decorate their apartment, and has no idea where to start.
The most important thing to do is figure out what resonates with you. Start paying attention to what you like and why you like it.
Next, I would suggest saving up and buying something that is going to last you a long time. It’s amazing what an emotional connection you form when you have a long-term investment with your furniture.