Mattel Looks Back On 60 Years Of Home Design Evolution With Barbie Dreamhouses
By Mikelle Leow, 23 Feb 2023
The first dream home for many young ones was likely the Barbie Dreamhouse. Now, some 60 years after the trendy role model first got her own crib, Mattel and architecture magazine PIN-UP have teamed up to reflect on her glow-up as a homeowner.
Their joint book, Barbie Dreamhouse: An Architectural Survey, spotlights six iconic dollhouses influenced by the design trends of their time. The coffee table statement, photographed by Evelyn Pustka and accompanied by neat architectural drawings, extols the Dreamhouse as a symbol of the evolving times and culture, as well as a reflection of changing domestic ideals.
The result is no child’s play: “We designed the book like a proper architecture monograph, with consistent photography and detailed drawings,” explains Ben Ganz, art director at PIN-UP Magazine.
Ian Volner, author and architecture critic, concurs that Barbie houses “do reflect the transition in architecture from Modernist to Postmodernism” and beyond.
Barbie’s first Dreamhouse in 1962, which for the first time gave young girls an idea of what “a bachelorette pad for liberated single woman” might look like, was stepped in the Modernist styles of designers like Charles and Ray Eames, Herman Miller, and Florence Knoll.
“In the design landscape in Postwar America, which Barbie enters in 1962, there were many ways both architects and consumers were acting like children, always playing house,” quips architecture historian and curator Beatriz Colomina in a snippet.
Barbie leveled up with more experimentation through the groovy 1970s, then opted for the floral-accented aesthetics of Laura Ashley- and Ralph Lauren-adorned homes, swerved into the “girl power” era of the early 2000s, before finally entering the diverse 2020s, where the Dreamhouse is envisioned to accommodate her gang, while being accessible with wheelchair support.
Looks like a dream, doesn’t it? You can find out more about the book here.
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