WHEN PLAYBOY INFORMED SEXY DESIGN AND MADE THE BACHELOR PAD A CULTURAL ICON

Debuting in 1953, Hugh Hefner’s Playboy magazine represented the ultimate liberated lifestyle for men of the 1950s, ’60s and beyond. Some called Hef’s imaginative, artistic spreads on architecture & interior design nothing more than self-indulgent, male sexual fantasy cloaked under a flimsy cover of so-called culture. For the man that wanted to be (or fantasized of being) the master of his own hedonistic domain — Playboy was his blueprint. And Hef perfected his own personal blueprint for tapping directly into the wallet of a new consumption-based male ideal that thought (and bought) with their crotch. The Playboy man now sought the aspiration of sleek, modern design that Hugh brilliantly linked with the primal desire of getting laid.

Whatever the angle, it cannot be denied that scores of men were introduced to, and educated on, the finer points of Mid-Century Modern Design and the masters behind the movement that is now an iconic part of our history. And the Bachelor Pad, dripping with sexy, come-hither vibe, an inhibition-busting bar, and the latest modern marvels to dazzle her, was born thanks to Hef — who literally fleshed-it-out and showed us just how good it could look, make you feel, and improve your net worth with the ladies.

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JULIUS SHULMAN | THE DEFINING EYE OF ARCHITECTURAL PHOTOGRAPHY

When people speak of architectural photography, these two images always come up as arguably the most iconic and moving of all. You may not know the photographer’s name, you may not know the architect– but if you’ve ever seen these images and appreciate both photography & architecture, they are most likely seared on your mind’s eye.

Julius Shulman was a photographer for 70+ yrs, capturing some of the world’s most amazing structures and spaces ever created by man. He set the standard that others now strive to reach, and when they can’t– they may simply stage or frame a shot using his famous works like a proven template as homage and acknowledgement that it just doesn’t get any better. Shulman brought Mid-Century Modern to the world as much as the legendary architects he worked with. Sought out not just for for his incredible eye– he had an innate ability to understand and interpret the architect’s intent, and tell that story strikingly with laser-like focus. Correction: Shulman didn’t set the standard– he is the standard.

Architect Richard Neutra’s “other” Kaufmann House built in Palm Springs, 1946– the first being Fallingwater, and yes– Frank Lloyd Wright’s feathers were indeed ruffled over this apparent snub when Pittsburgh department store magnate Edgar J. Kaufmann selected another architect for this project. Published in the LIFE Magazine feature “Glamourized Houses” in 1949. –Image by © Julius Shulman / J.Paul Getty Trust / Julius Shulman photography archive. “No other architect Shulman worked with was as controlling as Neutra. He would look through the viewfinder and adjust the camera, only to have Shulman move it back when he turned his head. Theirs was a battle of egos, of who was in charge of what and whom. This was never more so than when Shulman photographed the Kaufmann House on a 1947 evening. He set up inside as the sun began to fall behind the mountains, but to capture the fleeting dusk he decided to move outdoors. Neutra wanted him to stay put. Shulman ignored him and placed the tripod on the lawn facing west. As the sky darkened, the house glowed. For the next 45 minutes Shulman ran in and out of the glass house, switching lamps on and off, opening and closing the shutter to burn in the light. At the end of the exposure he asked Mrs. Kaufmann to stretch out on the deck. Who wouldn’t want to imagine themselves there? The photograph, its lights and darks forming a thousand shades of gray, the geometric lines of the house set against the jagged range, would become one of Shulman’s two most reproduced works.” –Mary Melton

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FUTURISTIC MODERN DESIGN | STANDING THE TEST OF TIME

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Modern Design

Luxurious bath, "Palais Bulles" in Theoule-sur-Mer, France -- Designed by fashion designer Pierre Cardin and architect Antti Lovag, ca. 1970s.

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“Palais Bulles” was an inspired collaboration between fashion designer Pierre Cardin (it was to be his home) and the Finnish architect Antti Lovag.  Nestled in the stunning red rock face, this masterpiece of modern design was built utilizing entirely curved surfaces. The network of anti-seismic, self-sustaining bubbles extend over almost 5,000 square feet, and are dramatically perched 2,000 feet above the beautiful blue Mediterranean Sea.  The views, they say, are absolutely unbelievable.

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“Palais Bulles”, or The Bubble Palace, sits atop a hillside in Theoule-sur-Mer on the French Riviera, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The futuristic mansion, comprised of rounded rooms with rotating floors, was designed by Pierre Cardin and architect Antti Lovag in 1968.

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Domestic Transformer

I have always been drawn to small spaces.  As a kid I dreamt of being a lighthouse keeper– alone in my solitude with only a pipe, books, guitar, and the pounding waves.  When that didn’t happen, I longed for an old aluminum-clad Airstream– retro-fitted to match the aesthetic of my mind’s eye.  

With small spaces, an intimate life is thrust upon you.  You learn to pare down to the essentials, and become a master editor– selecting the best, leaving the rest.  Existence is more about enjoying what you have, rather than craving more.  Because at the end of the day– the things we possess end-up owning us.

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