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Telematic House by Ugo La Pietra

An installation in the Milan Furniture Fair in 1983, the Telematic House is an exploration of the potential impact of communication technologies in the domestic space.

Environment Transformers by Haus Rucker Co.

These prototypes were satirical proposals for headsets that could alter the user`s perception of the world.

L: Sketches for the Glass House by Sergei Eisentein; R: 1984 by George Orwell

The theme explores visions of total lack of privacy, like George Orwell’s 1984.

Micro Environments: The New Domestic Landscape by Ettore Sottsass

Italian designer Ettore Sottsass`s Micro Environment proposed a modular system that merged with infrastructure to liberate the home from consumer goods.

Manzak by Archigram

Archigram`s Manzak, also called the "Electronic Tomato" is a satire of the futuristic, robotic devices of the 1950s.

RCA- Whirlpool Miracle Kitchen of the Future

Exhibited first in 1959, the features of the kitchen included autonomous radio controlled vacuum cleaner, adjustable sinks and a dishwasher that moved around on an electric track.

Living Cells No. 1-6 by Absalon (Meir Eshel)

The artist designed, for his own use, six single occupancy living cells, which he intended to install in six different cities around the world.

Improvised Toaster, electric kettle and Grinder

Helping man be more self-reliant, the theme seeks out designers that developed systems for the users to customise their own homes.

Autoprogettazione: Single Bed by Enzo Mari

Mari`s manual offered 19 designs that used no more than a hammer, some nails and used timber.

GuFram Cactus by Gudio Drocco and Franko Mello

In 1972 Gudio Drocco and Franko Mello designed a coat hang in the shape of a cactus.

Opposing functionalism

This particular version of future homes explores the need for users to be emotional and irrational at home.

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Showcase 14 Feb 2019

Making a Home: Design Museum London takes a retro-futuristic look at homes

Home Futures explores what was predicted to be the future of homes throughout the 20th century, using artefacts, drawings and installations from the last century. How close were their predictions to our homes today? Let’s find out.

Walking into the exhibition, I expected to see retro-futurism which is both amusing yet slightly far fetched – like things out of “Back to the Future” or “Jetsons”. I wasn’t disappointed. However, the exhibition was so much more than that. The displays were broadly divided into 6 themes: Living with Others, Living Smart, Living on the Move, Living with Less, Living Autonomously and Domestic Arcadia. While very few of the displays were obviously close to the way we live today, most of them were seemingly fanciful, and strikingly familiar at the same time.

Living with Others

The theme explores visions of total lack of privacy, like George Orwell’s 1984, to telecommunication taking over our lives as depicted in Ugo La Pietra’s Telematic House, or Haus Rucker Co.’s Environment Transformers. At first glance these feel like they couldn't be farther from reality, and yet we do have cameras in our homes that record our every move, “smart” devices that listen so they can function efficiently and aren’t we all constantly facing screens, albeit not the bulky ones Pietra imagined we’d face?

Telematic House by Ugo La Pietra

An installation in the Milan Furniture Fair in 1983, the Telematic House is an exploration of the potential impact of communication technologies in the domestic space.

Environment Transformers by Haus Rucker Co.

These prototypes were satirical proposals for headsets that could alter the user`s perception of the world.

L: Sketches for the Glass House by Sergei Eisentein; R: 1984 by George Orwell

The theme explores visions of total lack of privacy, like George Orwell’s 1984.

Living on the Move

This section examines the 20th century’s utopian concept of a fluid, nomadic life, sans materialism and consumerism. While some like Ettore Sottsass and Jan Kaplicky speculated modular environments and Hans Hollein proposed a mobile, bubble office. Others like Superstudio imagined humans to live on a more natural habitat. Today, being “digital nomads” we do fit into the idea of living on the move. Although our mediums might not be as simplistic as Sottsass or Hollien thought it would be, but with wifi and mobile devices, our work transcends to home and to vacations just as seamlessly.

Micro Environments: The New Domestic Landscape by Ettore Sottsass

Italian designer Ettore Sottsass`s Micro Environment proposed a modular system that merged with infrastructure to liberate the home from consumer goods.

Living Smart

Building from the idea of making homes simple, this version looks at making lives simple – the technological home that could work FOR us. Opposing the previous theme that minimises consumerism and ownership, Living Smart looks at goods that could make our homes maximise efficiency. Ranging from the satirical Manzak by Archigram – the domestic robot perfect for hunting, fishing, shopping and entertainment, to the more realistic RCA Miracle Kitchen of the Future by Anne Anderson that features a radio controlled vacuum cleaner, adjustable sinks and a dishwasher that moves around.

Manzak by Archigram

Archigram`s Manzak, also called the "Electronic Tomato" is a satire of the futuristic, robotic devices of the 1950s.

RCA- Whirlpool Miracle Kitchen of the Future

Exhibited first in 1959, the features of the kitchen included autonomous radio controlled vacuum cleaner, adjustable sinks and a dishwasher that moved around on an electric track.

Living with Less

One witnesses a projection of the housing crisis in the 20th century through Living with Less which investigates minimizing space while maximising functionality. Absalon’s Proposals for Dwelling – Living Cells that is designed by the Israeli French artist for his own use, based on his own measurements and everyday activities; are starkly similar to today’s ever-growing trend of micro-homes. Also featured are examples of furniture such as Joe Colombo’s Multi Chair as well as layouts such as first works of Neufert's drawings that could both best utilise space.

Living Cells No. 1-6 by Absalon (Meir Eshel)

The artist designed, for his own use, six single occupancy living cells, which he intended to install in six different cities around the world.

Living Autonomously

Helping man be more self-reliant, the theme seeks out designers that developed systems for the users to customise their own homes. Projects like Enzo Mari’s Autoprogettazione that demonstrates furniture that can be easily made with wooden planks and nails, and Yona Friedman’s Biosphere that uses cartoons to make architecture accessible to all; are essentially what we know today as open source design.

Improvised Toaster, electric kettle and Grinder

Helping man be more self-reliant, the theme seeks out designers that developed systems for the users to customise their own homes.

Autoprogettazione: Single Bed by Enzo Mari

Mari`s manual offered 19 designs that used no more than a hammer, some nails and used timber.

Domestic Arcadia

Opposing functionalism, this particular version of future homes explores the need for users to be emotional and irrational at home. An ensemble of surreal interiors and idyllic landscapes, the theme playfully evokes alternative domestic realms. With Keisler’s Endless House that imitates a living organism, and Gufram’s use of polyurethane to produce furniture in natural forms, the theme begs the question “Can the dream of efficiency ever respond to our basic human need for comfort, leisure and recreation?”

GuFram Cactus by Gudio Drocco and Franko Mello

In 1972 Gudio Drocco and Franko Mello designed a coat hang in the shape of a cactus.

Opposing functionalism

This particular version of future homes explores the need for users to be emotional and irrational at home.

Each theme, however opposing to each other, never fails to strike a chord with the reality of our living situations, and our homes today. The cleverly curated objects and experiences left me with the question of what possible direction would future homes change in and if it would ever be possible to draw a balance in our multidimensional needs from a home.

The exhibition runs till the 24th of March, do check it out! Find out more about Design Museum and their other exhibitions here.

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