Saturday, December 17, 2022

Barbie's Dreamhouse


New York Times - "A Six-Decade Tour of Barbie’s Dreamhouses"

"In 1962, three years after Barbie was born, Mattel introduced Barbie’s Dreamhouse: a folding ranch house that was the first of many domiciles that evolved with the times.

After beginning modestly in cardboard, the Dreamhouses became plastic, pastel, palatial and electrified, often all at once. They acquired elevators, sun decks, modern European furniture, recycling bins and multiple bedrooms — though Barbie remained perennially single and holding the lease (or mortgage).

To honor this 60-year milestone, Mattel collaborated with the design magazine PIN-UP on a limited-edition art book, “Barbie Dreamhouse: An Architectural Survey.” The 151-page monograph tracks the evolution of Dreamhouses through six examples, shown with their original furnishings and architectural blueprints.

What readers will not see is Barbie herself, or any of her friends or family. With Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” movie opening in July and the doll’s hyper-pink aesthetic hitting Instagram like a strawberry milkshake tsunami, feminist revulsion toward the doll is taking a back seat to ironic celebration.

“Camp has become the white noise of our culture,” said Whitney Mallett, a contributing editor of PIN-UP, who edited the book with Felix Burrichter, the magazine’s founder (the design and concept are by Ben Ganz).

The book examines the cultural and architectural forces that shaped the Dreamhouses over the decades, including Queen Anne Victorianism, midcentury modernism and back-to-the-land granola-ism.

It also quotes writers, artists and architects on how Barbitecture shaped their own psyches. “Barbie’s house is infinitely more exciting than Barbie herself,” writes Elvia Wilk, a cultural critic. “The structures we live within — fantasize about living within — say more about our lives and dreams than plastic bodies ever will.”"

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