Machines for Living

Machines for living
I bought the first few issues of self-styled lifestyle bible Wallpaper*, before their Time, Inc. windfall buyout in 1997. London newsagents didn’t know what to make of the magazine, and tended to shelve it in the DIY/Home repair section. I sympathized—could never tell if their posturing was laughing at me or with me. What can you expect from a 27-year-old editor with the improbably dashing name Tyler Brûlé?

Their concept architecture articles were great, though. They favored a small London firm called Softroom (who had never delivered a real commission at the time). I wanted to live in the Maison Canif:

    ‘Foldaway accomodation for the busy international jet-setter in the form of a giant swiss-army knife.The blades have been replaced by all the essential luxuries neccessary for modern living.
    Rather than using the perimeter walls of a particular space to define the architecture, all functions are grouped into a single unit that could be deployed anywhere, such as a redundant office space. Primary functions are grouped around four corner pivots; living, eating, washing and sleeping. Telescopic ‘toothpick’ booms migrate around a perimeter track to provide dividing screens and additional lighting. ‘

I was reminded of Maison Canif by this New York Times piece on another London architectural experiment; the Piercy Connor microflat. For around $84,000, you get a 344-square-foot pod, which squeezes in a king-size bed, a sofa, a desk and a table that seats six. Elegant, multi-purpose, and central, with too little storage to clutter your life with stuff. Where do I sign?

*I wasn’t smart enough to find Maison Canif on Wallpaper*’s fancy Flash web site, but Google rescued me eventually. Let my epitaph read: Skipped goddamn intro).