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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Future interiors from the past 3: "The House of the Future"



Here is a lighthearted but, nevertheless, interesting look at the house of the future produced in 1956. The illustration was by Detroit-based graphic designer Fred McNabb who had, a year earlier, turned his mind to other ways we would be living in the future.






His 1955 year look at domestic laundry, a decade into the future, posited a combination washer/dryer and shirt presser and folder. The machine would need a considerable amount of room but would leave madame free to go shopping for urgently needed cat food. Of course, anyone who successfully solves the problem of mechanically pressing and folding shirts for a domestic context is going to make a huge amount of money but, sadly, progress in this area has been almost non-existent and disproportionately large numbers of women around the world still spend hours a week on this mind-numbing labour





In his look at the office of 1960 our executive merely needs to speak his pearls of wisdom and they are printed, addressed and stuck into envelopes ready to go. There was, of course, no development along these lines in the sixties as it was cheaper to employ large numbers of women (when they weren't ironing) to do all the tedious stuff rather than develope a machine. It would never be contemplated that the executive would have to learn to type himself, of course. Agent Triple P remembers that he was working in a large well known insurance institution about twenty years ago. Triple P's secretary had a Wang (as did Triple P) for sending internal e-mails (with lovely green on black writing). However, his secretary, (a spectacularly beautiful girl with an amzing figure, who had been a top sprinter) had an additional word processing package so that she could type his letters. Sometimes Triple P needed to change a letter after the secretary had left and so he asked to be given the word processing package as well. Because of the cost of the licence this went up to a very senior director level. Triple P's request was turned down on the basis "that we do not pay our senior executives to waste their time with typing." Quite right! Get a girl to do it!


Back to the main picture, McNabb got some things right and some things wrong. We do not, of course fly around in personal helicopters so we don't need moving stairs up to the roof! Dust free floors would first require dust free people and he has his usual laundry folding machine. The giant sized fruit (presumably genetically engineered) are completely the wrong way around, of course. Everyone today wants small fruit and vegatables: cherry tomatoes, baby sweetcorn, miniature cauliflowers. Food as presentation having become more important than size or indeed taste. In Britain, at least, many of our fruit and vegetables come from vast glasshouses in the Netherlands. Things like peppers look lovely but taste of nothing. HMS has been known to get his fruit and vegetables direct from Italy. They are completely non-standard in both shape and colour but they taste fantastic!


Three things he got right are the flat-screen TV (a reallly good prediction given the nature of TVs fifty years ago), the microwave oven and the phone-vision receiver which looks amazingly like an Apple Mac!

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