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Wednesday, November 29, 2006


At first glance, Playboy magazine's 'Playboy Town House', originally shown in the May 1962 issue (and lovingly scanned by Meathaus, where some content is nsfw - all the Playboy stuff is ok, though), looks like a period piece, thanks to the rendering style, the typography and yellowed paper. But let the images sink in for a few minutes and they spool forward into the present, a retro-dazzled viewpoint that makes this design for a suave bachelor pad appear startlingly modern. For example, the furniture includes pieces by Erwine and Estelle Laverne, Herman Miller and Eero Saarinen. The architectural lines are sleek, the furnishings boldly coloured, even the illustration is of a type that's found renewed favour.

What's old is new again: modernity is a fickle thing to define. For some, the 60s-era chic of the Playboy pad will remain forever modern, the very definition of urban style (compare and contrast this with a contemporary fit-out, say a certain London estate agent, and the parallels are obvious: this is aspirational stuff). Increasingly, modernity is represented by the ability to absent yourself from the 'real' world, be it through abstracted architecture that mimics the real world (as in Dubai) without any of its perceived drawbacks, or structures that remove themselves from the real world altogether. The Magellan is a cruise liner, 'designed for the discerning traveller', an ocean-going experience for the monied 'adventurer'. Like the similar (and troubled) The World (or even the still-hypothetical Freedom Ship), modernism is defined not in terms of aesthetics, but in the level of detachment. Of course, occupiers of these spaces are able to venture bravely into managed wildernesses, like the on-board tropical paradise, while eating fine foods and making occasional daring forays onto uncharted lands. What price freedom? Poky three-bed cabins start at around $1.875m.

*

Other things. Gigaswarm, a weblog / a selection of recent Italian architecture / Destination: Desert America Void, a new feature at Archinect, looking at the 'extreme uses of the desert ranging from a location of temporary utopias to nuclear testing sites.' There are no deserts in the UK, but click here for some unconscious military land art / a Response to Tatlin's Monument to the Third International Conceived in the Mood of Ambivalence, at Flux Factory / Quondam dot com, an alphabetical trawl through classical art. See also Quondam, which contains recent images of the lesser known works of Louis I.Kahn.

The Heritage of the Great War, including The Great War in Colour / Pixelnotes, an installation by Sirka Hammer with Duncan Wilson (via plasticbag) / 'decoration trucks', or Dektora, an internet favourite (via Chris Glass). Imagine a whole city flooded with these moving light shows, like a year-round Christmas light show / Jaguar's next saloon is to be called the XF. It will not look anything like the 2003 XF10, by Fuore / Hans van der Meer's photographs of football fields (via Kottke): 'the Landscape of Lower League Football'.