Imagine Architecture – Artistic Visions of the Urban Realm (Gestalten)

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Every once in a while I go to the Stockholm Museum of Modern Art with the firm intention to watch an exhibition. Then I never get past the museum book store. It’s a wonderful place with retro-futuristic  girls and boys walking the isles with bright eyes, “Kafka didn’t have a blast either” T-shirts and Betty Page hairdos. It smells of new, unread, glossy books, and the floor is covered with some sticky glue that makes it so hard for me to leave… I always find some new books I want to adopt. This time it was a book about architecture.

Few things are more central to us humans than architecture. From the first pre-paleolithic shelters to modern crashing pads or refurbished lofts, home is where we hope to be safe and secure. Where else can we be ourselves and let go of all pretense, change into something less flattering but much more comfy, and just relax. This should be the place that truly reflects our personality, a playground for outrageous, unlimited and shameless exploration of what we are, or hope to be. How is it then that most buildings are so dull and stereotype? Yes, I know. Built to outlast fashion fads, considering economic aspects, versatility with an eye on future new owners and possible new purposes. But still! I would like to go out into a community of one-family houses and be able to read the personalities of the individuals on the exteriors of their homes! Wouldn’t that be something… Every house as a building project with layers upon layers of previous owners’ personalities. Each generation adds something new: A brightly painted porch to keep your piranha tanks, or a little turret for bird watching equipment. And the interiors should be even more outrageous! Inside, it’s nobody’s business how many odd objects I pile up around me, or how ascetic my livingroom is. For so many years we’ve been fed articles in Interior Decoration Mags, all of them neatly tucked int0 well-behaved and safe categories. Boho-chic. Retro fifties Scandinavian. Sober can’t-go-wrong hotel aesthetics wrapped in comfort blankets of muted colors. Ethno styles with just the right amount of ethno. People with money so anguished to decorate wrong that they submit the personalisation process to professional decorators. I’m glad to see some of that change, with more traces of actual life in these glossy magazines. But you still wonder: where are the homes of all the others, the ones who are not really balanced, levelled and muted when decorating – the ones who actually don’t decorate at all because they are busy living? I think there must be so much beauty and dynamics, the signs of full and intense living out there in the real world. And we should start to see it.

This book makes me dream. A peak into a world where architecture takes a break,  tears off leash and harness, and goes wild.

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