Modern Playing Cards

Bay Area Modern

The San Francisco Bay Area. Cable cars. Victorians. The Golden Gate Bridge. Stanford University. UC Berkeley. Silicon Valley. When most people think of the San Francisco Bay Area, the first thing that comes to mind is usually not “Modernism.” Heather David would like to change that.

Heather_Cards_0071webSan Francisco-born and Bay Area-raised, David has been researching and documenting the region’s mid-century modern architecture for the past 15+ years. She is the author of the book Mid-Century by the Bay (now out of print) and numerous articles on American popular culture and historic preservation. Her latest project is a deck of Bay Area Modern playing cards, for both educational and recreational purposes.

Why playing cards?

The concept for the playing cards had been brewing in my mind for several years. The deck easily slips into a purse or backpack. Each card suit features a geographic area within the larger Bay Area (San Francisco, Peninsula, South Bay)… which could be used for a self-guided architectural tour. With the exception of the private residences, the majority of the featured buildings can be physically experienced.

Why not a phone app?

I’ll leave the phone app for someone else to do. I grew up playing card games, and I still like a good game of Rummy. What’s wrong with having some friends over for cocktails and game night? You can play cards and learn some architectural history while you’re at it.


Why do you like this architecture so much?

People often ask me this question. It shouldn’t be a surprise that I like this architecture. It was designed to be eye-catching and have a broad appeal. Following World War II, there was an incredible optimism in the United States. There was widespread economic prosperity, and the future seemed to have no limits. The architecture from this period reflects the excitement of the time. Architects were competing for business and differentiating themselves through innovative design.

The Bay Area Modern cards are available for online purchase on:



The cards will be in physical stores soon—including SF MOMA and William Stout in San Francisco and Antiques Colony in San Jose.

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