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YES, IT'S THE STREISAND GOSPEL OF DESIGN
And the edict of near-complete control
This week has been brought to you by the Superfluous A.
In this issue!
Barbra Streisand: WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
We mine Barbra Streisand’s design book for FOR SCALE-approved design philosophies
The B.S. basement secret: and the value of indulging in THE ABSURD, plus non-Barbra ABSURDITIES we admire
My Passion For Design correspondent ASHLEY FRIEDMAN reports on one of B.S.’s fetishes; and Internet Sleuth and Barbra Streisand expert ABIGAIL CARLIN reports on the public’s reaction to M.P.F.D.
First: a mission. Is anyone friends with Julia Fox? We need to talk.
Onto regular programming:
As bombarded as we might be by celebrity home tours on YouTube, none, none are worthy of analysis. If you want to learn – we’re sorry to report – we must insist on READING. (*A very meta suggestion!) More labor intensive, but ultimately a much richer experience. And, we’re here to prove it to you via THE MOST IMPORTANT HOME BOOK OF THE 21ST CENTURY SO FAR, which is coincidentally visually horrendous. It is…
2010’s “MY PASSION FOR DESIGN: A PRIVATE TOUR” BY BARBRA STREISAND
is QUEEN OF PERSONALIZATION, going so far as to remove from her first name its “extra” A
was successfully able to style HER OWN FINGERS into a Hollywood sensation
And, though not a single corner of Barbra’s several houses is, for us, a visual inspiration (THO IT MIGHT BE FOR YOU!), she has some incredible insights that make M.P.F.D. nonetheless a superior text.
So, you’re welcome. Because we’ll digest it all here for you.
WHERE OTHER INTERIORS BOOKS FAIL?
They’ve been edited. (This one doesn’t appear to have been.)
THINGS WE KNOW ABOUT BARBRA THAT WE THINK WILL WIN YOU OVER (SKIP IF YOU’RE ALREADY A FAN):
“It’s not what a thing costs; it’s what it’s been through”: Barbra is very philosophical about THE SECOND HAND:
(Inaugural AUDIO CLIP for us!)
Legend has it that she does (or did?) label everything in her house, inconspicuously, with how much she paid for it. This is the eccentricity of a committed bargain hunter.
She was once convinced by Deepak Chopra that she’d WILLED some rust- and yellow-colored mums to change colors to pink and white ones. And, then proceeded to tell this, completely earnestly, to Oprah in a televised 2003 interview.
BARBRA DESIGN CREDS VIA ARCHI COVERS:
VITAL WORDS OF WISDOM
The third sentence of MY PASSION FOR DESIGN, in its dedication (beneath a large credit for Barbra as the book’s principal photographer) is CRUCIAL CONTEXT not only her Malibu house in 2010 but also ALL INTERIOR DESIGN SINCE INDUSTRIALIZATION:
“I don’t pretend to know much,” writes Barbra, “but I do think that technology without consciousness invites disaster. If only our hearts were as evolved as our minds…”
WHY is Barbra talking about technology, consciousness and emotional intelligence in the opening of an INTERIOR DESIGN BOOK?
Because, in her view, the DOMESTIC SPACE is a space for care, artisanship, a refuge for that in life which can stand the tests of time.
THE TRINITY OF BARBRA: CRUCIAL LESSONS FROM “M.P.F.D.” THAT ARE ALL ABOUT “YOU”
Mimicking the her dimensions of B.S. as a star, her approach to design operates according to the following holy trinity – one to which we ABSOLUTELY subscribe:
THE ABSURD in the domestic interior is the act of CREATING rather than simply “arranging”. Decide where to unshackle yourself from the imposed/expected, as Barbra does.
Barbra is, again and again, unafraid of pushing things far beyond the ACCEPTABLE, to the brink of UNHINGED (*a term of endearment).
TO ILLUSTRATE, MAY WE PRESENT AN EXCELLENT PIECE OF TRIVIA, SUITABLE FOR INTERIOR DESIGN DINNER PARTY CONVERSATION:
Did you know: Barbra Streisand has A FAUX ‘YE OLDE’-STYLE SHOPPING STREET IN HER BASEMENT. Complete with a cobbled road and shop fronts with cutesy names.
In various “shops” (or sometimes ‘Shoppes’) she keeps her collections: antiques, dolls, clothes; as well as some services for her screening room: frozen yogurt and popcorn are both available in the “Sweet Shop”.
This is what the basement looks like, and honestly it’s like the opening to BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.
It's a quiet village
Like the one before
ASIDE: RECONSIDERING THE DOLLHOUSE
And, as we enter a global BARBIE ERA this summer, with the release of Greta Gerwig’s much-anticipated DEFINITELY-A-MASTERPIECE FILM, and the recent elevation of the Barbie Dreamhouse thanks to PIN-UP MAGAZINE’s book on the subject, we are on board for playtime.
PLUS: This might finally make sense of those ABSURD mini chairs that are somehow in every design shop but only about 0.01% of design enthusiasts have, up ‘til now, considered buying.
E.g.: rub.ish.nyc, a wonderful seller, is not currently in NYC but in ROME and found this, which we assume to be a kind of cell phone stand. But, doesn’t it give kind of “Postmodern Chair” ripe for Dollhousery:
ESSENTIAL CULTURE TO KNOW
In 2014, the New York playwright JONATHAN TOLINS wrote a one-man play – brought to life most notably, and almost exclusively, by MICHAEL URIE – about an out-of-work actor (there are many!) who gets a job as a “shop” keeper in Barbra’s basement.
It is ABSURD, it’s a DELIGHT, and it’s called BUYER & CELLAR.
NON-BABS “ABSURD” WE LOVE, x3:
The value of DEFIANCE is to shed the weight of expectation, and it layers upon ABSURDITY in this way: you do you AND you also don’t give a f*ck if others respond to it.
Briefly on the basement: Does Barbra give a damn what you think? No! In fact, she views her Absurdity as “Bright Idea”.
But MY PASSION FOR DESIGN defies in an even more obvious way. With Barbra as principal photographer the images look like this:
Again, she’s not trying to seduce you with beautiful or even “okay” visuals. If you get it, you damn well get it. Otherwise, move along.
And, same goes for those Barbra consulted. When she wanted to mix a billion styles together like a heretic (*term of endearment!), architect friends told her “DON’T EVEN TRY!”, but, she did. And, yes, it’s too much – but she’s “happy with the results”.
Do you think Barbra looses any sleep over what OTHER PEOPLE think of her house? We’d argue that, despite the fact she went to the effort of publishing a really long book about it, NO - she doesn’t. (We don’t believe she thought much about making this book – in the Barbraverse, self-promotion is self-care.)
Every single design publication and T*kT*k will talk to you about detail. But DETAIL for Barbra takes on a different meaning: it’s not “attention to detail”, it’s basically a MANIFESTO ON SELF. And, in respect for your time, we’ll choose TWO DETAILS, and we’ll show you how these are very BARBRA via Barbra cinema.
“THE MIRROR HAS TWO FACES” so why can’t a door?
An intriguing concept from Barbra is that a door should NOT be the same on both sides. Each should reflect the room to which they face. To make this work, ensure all your doors are ALWAYS CLOSED, or are of the POCKET variety.
“A STAR IS BORN” (1978) was a hit, so now we’re into remakes (in this case it’s the remake of a palace in Vienna)
She sang at a palace in Vienna – or in front of it? – and an entire page is dedicated to a performative forgetting of what that palace was called (she ‘remembers it’ on page 211). In any case, she loved the floors and measured the width of the floorboards (3.5”, “three-and-one-half-inch” in Barbra parlance) for that to be replicated in Malibu.
N.B. For floorboard lovers, may we suggest a TRUDON “SOLIS REX” candle, scented to mimic the waxy wooden floors of Versailles.
OTHER INTERESTING INTERIORS ADVICE FROM “M.P.F.D”:
VOCALIZE YOUR WANTS: she complimented a friend’s desk by saying “that’s the exact one I have been searching for exhaustively, and here it is, YOU have it - you lucky b*tch” (paraphrase), and the friend subsequently gave it to her.
ALL TVs ARE HIDDEN: Brava! TVs are generally hellish visual black holes. And even Barbra, a woman OF THE SCREEN, can see this.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: On many occasions, Barbra introduces food motifs despite the fact she famously can’t even cook and egg. (But can cook a chocolate soufflé - she’s an enigma!) To her, unlike to many, FOOD AS AESTHETIC isn’t a claim she makes it, it’s a claim she really, really likes to taste it.
Beginning to wrap up:
AS PER, we are deeply interested in CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS, and so we have…
“M.P.F.D” CORRESPONDENT ASHLEY FRIEDMAN ON BARBRA STREISAND AND “SIMPLICITY” COSPLAY
“BARBRA IS FETISHIZING domestic and agrarian labor all over this book, a fairly common mega-celebrity behavior.
The cabinet-fronts with seeds in them, a water wheel (INSPIRED BY A HOOKED DECORATIVE RUG), a barn. A servants quarters-inspired gym. The romance of a sanitized, colonial pastoral Americana is a critical counterweight.
A stoneware sink and beamed ceiling tell us that Barbra is pure of heart – but we also know she couldn’t live with that wooden barn if it didn’t have a plush screening room that has retractable walls. Or stained-glass doors on her Napping Chamber; or that molding in the Federal Sitting Room that none of the carpenters could get quite right.
It’s Marie-Antoinette at Hameau de la Reine. It’s 90s Helmut Lang or Prince Harry choosing a Zoom background for calls at his startup. Rustic simplicity impresses most when you could have had opulence if you’d wanted.” — A.F.
N.B. SHE ALSO DISPLAYS A “Works Progress Administration” SIGN which is very YOU ARE VALUABLE BECAUSE OF YOUR LABOR New Deal politics
FINALLY, DON’T TAKE OUR WORD FOR IT:
BARBRA EXPERT AND FOR SCALE INTERNET SLEUTH ABIGAIL CARLIN REPORTS ON THE PUBLIC REACTION
The pictures are beautiful
anonimous, 7 January 2018
“I gave it 3 stars because of the pictures, yes, they’re beautiful. Personally, I wouldn’t live in a house (more precisely: houses) like this, it looks like a theme park and a museum. It will probably become a museum in 50 years.”
We can only hope – if “anonimous” is able to see into the future, we only have 45 more years until The Museum of Babs is open and we’ll be first in line.
kitty kat, 15 July 2012
“Her chickens are adorable… truly. I wish there had been more photographs of the birds… and fewer of the wooden rooms.”
In 2017, a mere six months after Streisand’s beloved Sammy died (the cute pup on the cover, whom she later cloned), some of her chickens ran away (don’t worry, she found them). I think we know who left the gate open… here’s looking at you kitty kat.
Amazing Journey - Worth the read, yes I said read!
Jaye Yauruss, 7 October 2011
“Even when I didn’t like the furnishings, I felt connected and I could see myself sitting on that blue couch with her enjoying the view and the roses, and the reasons why everything had a perfect place, with a thoughtful placement.”
Same. If Streisand has the power to mentally change the color of flowers, can you imagine how lovely and fragrant she makes them? Happiness is cuddling up on the couch with her and some Constant Comment tea, chatting about plant mind control.
Until next time!
LOVE AND GOOD LUCK,
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