living in: east of eden


The 1955 adaption of John Steinbeck’s classic novel East of Eden is worth a watch for reasons other than a young James Dean. Those reasons may be minor and insignificant when you get right down to it, but you could try and peel your eyes off him and refocus your gaze on the coastal California landscape and the pitch-perfect Americana that Steinbeck conjures so easily. — Amy M.

1. Jennifer Ouellette Headband, $19; 2. Vintage Day Dress, $143; 3. Dewit Garden Tools, $25; 4. J.R. Liggett Shampoo Bar, $4; 5. Vintage Crate, $65; 6. Check Towel, $9; 7. Carnival Sculpture, $2750; 8. Padded Hanger, $9;  9. Roll of Tickets, $9

The second set of stills and another product roundup continue after the jump . . .

East of Eden is an early 20th-century Cain and Abel, rife with gorgeous agricultural trappings and similarly gorgeous brooding brothers. Dusty carnivals, farms, picnics and bushels of vegetables — it’s pretty much a summer dream. That Dean’s face is firmly planted center stage, well, that doesn’t hurt things, either.

1. Nickel Vanity Mirror, $20; 2. Milk Glass Pendant, $698; 3. Beeswax Taper, $7; 4. Seed Poster, $8; 5. Bread Board, $55; 6. Antique Bergere, $3150; 7. Vintage Factory Cart, $795; 8. Nutscene Garden Twine, $14; 9. Swiss Army Picnic Basket, $350

  1. Wow, I really love this – one of my favorite movie-inspired compilations yet! Those golden candles are such a simple touch in the second grouping yet add such a sweet, subtle splash of color.

  2. Vanessa says:

    James Dean = very yes. This is one of my favorite movies, thanks for doing this!

  3. Leslie says:

    This is a great compilation though I can’t deny that I absolutely adore this book (and the movie, of course!).


  4. athena says:

    this takes me back to high school — i was/am enamored with james dean! i had his movies (all 3 of them) on vhs tapes. thanks for the memories (now off to amazon to buy dvds of his films).

  5. I have not seen the movie, but i love the setting, i will probably check it out!

  6. Meaghan says:

    This IS summer to me! This board could be applied to soooo many different things. An awesome wedding in the making…eh?!!!

  7. Cher says:

    Oh I LOVE this movie! It was a pleasant surprise in my reader :) If it hasn’t been done yet, maybe Splendor in the Grass next?

  8. That carnival sculpture just rocked my world!!!!

  9. Annie Campos says:

    seeing these make me want to watch classic movies ♥

  10. Gosh, I love that movie! I need that seed packet poster. :-)

  11. virginia says:

    I’m reading the book right now…

  12. Marta says:

    One of my favourite actors and one fantastic movie. I haven’t read the book, though. Thanks!

  13. April says:

    One of my favorite books of all time– the movie is okay, too. :)

  14. kim says:

    Hmm, putting this on my to-watch list now

  15. Holly says:

    Swoon… I love a young James Dean! And I’ve always been curious about that J.R. Liggett’s solid shampoo, but have been somewhat afraid to try it…

  16. Michel Murphy says:

    Such a powerful story. If Abra had not been on his side, Cal would have been too painful to watch. He was only ever “young” James Dean and he will remain that way always.

  17. Much of this movie was filmed in the tiny town (approx 4 blocks by four blocks) of Spreckels, CA which very much remains a time capsule of the era. No real shops or restaurants, but I would highly recommend poking around. One highlight is the sparsely stocked general store, but don’t expect to get any pictures inside, the somehow endearing, cranky old-lady owner “doesn’t want them showing up on the computer.”

  18. Emily says:

    Love this movie and James Dean!

  19. Maia says:

    The carnival sculpture is AMAZING!

  20. Rochelle says:

    One of my favorite books and movies. I love the dress . . . so dainty

  21. Megan says:

    Oh my word, I nearly started hyperventilating when I saw this post! My love for anything and everything Steinbeck- (and Jimmy-) related knows no bounds. This “Living In” is perfection personified.

  22. ruzu says:

    I like the compilation :D looks great! I saw this movie twice, and for that time, was powerfull, now it is to slow for me jaja, but i love james Dean, he was a nice actor T_T

  23. Thomas says:

    Oh, i like these movie. James Dean was a great actor. To get these things it would be great. I like your site too !

  24. Monika says:

    Steinbeck, James Dean, a good era, and a film shot in the town of Mendocino, CA—one of my favorite communities of the North Coast of California. It doesn’t get any better than this. Design Sponge should visit Mendocino some time…..

  25. Erica B. says:

    Thank you for the perfect morning eye candy! In high school, my best friend and I visited J.D.’s Indiana grave and left red lipstick prints on the stone (the commonly accepted tribute if you’re a fan). During the yearly Dean festival, this movie is shown in the middle of a field on a huge blow-up movie screen. So yes, that means James Dean’s face is the size of a house!

  26. Lisa Mackin says:

    Wow ! I love that carnival sculpture – I want one!

  27. I am coveting the vintage cart nice!!! James Dean..ah.. yes.. what a waste!!

  28. everything about this is lovely – love the black and white photos – something very romantic about it all!

  29. venusinbleujeans says:

    Love it! You know what movie I watched recently that so deserves a “Living In” post? The Grifters. So awesomely nineties. The fashion alone is worth a watch.

  30. Bridget says:

    Amy-love your work! I do have a request, since you have asked us before. Could you do Somewhere in Time? It’s one of my top 10 movies. And Rocky. And about a million others. How about The Way We Were? Beaches?

  31. Bridget says:

    Oh yeah, and how about Say Anything? :)

  32. I love this —- movie equals life posts are some of my favorites. The time & attention spent putting these together can’t be easy — thanks for the attention to all the details. I love the black & white movie ones. Keep it up!!!
    – Carrie

  33. P. Sean says:

    You know what’s remarkable? Is how much Salinas looks in no way like Mendocino.

  34. Angle says:

    It is a make you to think about moive.

  35. Barbara Jaremczuk says:

    I have watched this movie many times, and each time I notice something new in the background that I didn’t notice before. Love this movie, and love the one & only James Dean. What a wonderful time to be young.

  36. Veronica M. says:

    Thank you so much for this edition of living in. I love James Dean and the 50s dress featured in the first roundup led me to find the lovely vintage online shop it came from, Love Miss Daisy. What wonderful dresses they have!! Thanks again!

  37. Mandi says:

    The “Living In” feature truly is a favorite of mine! I was just curious as to why the film stills are in black and white and not color? The Cinemascope and color add so much to the movie, I was surprised to not see them here. (Okay, maybe I’m sounding like a movie snob now… haha)

  38. Nice post.Thank you for taking the time to publish this information very useful!I’m still waiting for some interesting thoughts from your side in your next post thanks!

  39. Martin says:

    Agree! Brilliant post and design tips for inspiration.

  40. heather says:

    I live in mendocino where the movie was filmed. The majority of locations are still here and have not changed.


Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.