I see the Nut Tree as one of the first examples of a unified design approach, which these days you’d probably call a ‘branded environment.’ – Timothy McNeil
“If you lived in Northern California any time from the ’50s to the ’90s, your memories likely contain vivid flickers of Vacaville’s Nut Tree—the roadside oasis that lured generations of kids and adults alike. Was it an amusement park so wondrous that even Walt Disney himself visited? Or was it California’s original farm-to-fork capital? Or a modern art and design mecca that was first to bring mid-century Eames furniture to the NorCal masses? It was all of that and more.”
The Nut Tree and more specifically the design philosophy and work of its design director Don Birrell is an ongoing research project I’m undertaking with my colleague Prof. James Housefield. Working with family members associated with the founders of the Nut Tree we are currently planning an exhibit about the venue’s design legacy.
Sactown Magazine. February 2021. “Nut Tree Forever,” Tim McNeil and James Housefield interviewed and quoted in article discussing design director Don Birrell.
Photo: Tim McNeil