In the 51 years she’s been around, Barbie has lived in dozens of houses. There was the swingin’ 1962 pop-up cardboard dream house, Archigram-approved, we’re guessing, right down to the outrageous green-on-pink color scheme. There was the 1979 A-frame, with its sleek, geometric lines, like a Case Study house in the Hamptons. The 1982 dream cottage’s transforming roof-cum-roof-deck would’ve made Rem Koolhaas swoon.
But things have gone downhill lately. From the tacky pink-and-teal Victorian dream house to 2008’s garish, Jonathan Adler-decorated Malibu pad–has Barbie lost her design touch?
The architects among you might recall that in 2002, the voting public chose Architect Barbie in one of the first “I Can Be…” campaigns. It was a made-for-the-movies battle royale between architects and librarians (seriously), and the architects won. But it was not to be: Mattel got cold feet and made her an art teacher instead. Those who can’t do…
With a surprisingly chic new flagship Barbie store in Shanghai by Slade Architecture recently opening, maybe it’s time for Barbie to get hip to design again. As Slade Architecture’s Hayes Slade told me, “we all know of her strong sense of proportion”–har har–“but I hope the long hours in front of the computer and the low pay don’t interfere with the Malibu tan and fantastic wardrobe.” With the architecture industry as it is though, Barbie won’t have to worry too much about that. She’ll be out of work and back on the beach in no time.WB