Situation: Idea, (Interior Design/Interior Architecture Education Association), curated by Suzie Attiwill, RMIT University, Melbourne,

31st July-3rd August 2014

Lap of Luxury

Sophie Knezic (University of Melbourne)

One of the 20th century’s most intriguing articulations of transparency’s allure is evident in Adolf Loos’ Baker House. In 1926 the Viennese architect Adolf Loos drew up plans for a house for Josephine Baker: an Afro-American dancer based in Paris in the 1920s, considered one of the decade’s most acclaimed performers. Loos’ Baker House was never built but the design is distinctive for its dramatically syncopated façade in the form of black and white marble bands creating horizontal stripes, as well as its feature of a centrally placed internal swimming pool. Loos considered the design one of his best. In its original design, the Baker House swimming pool represents a doubling of transparency: an intensified desire to see through twice – beyond water and glass – to the fantasised subject of the dancer’s lithe body. Yet Baker was a performer, meaning the pool could be a site of both exhibitionism and voyeurism, a scopic realm commingling masculinist desire with subjective masquerade. Lap of Luxury (2014) materialises Loos’ unrealised plan as a glistening oasis of specular fantasy.

© 2016 by Sophie Knezic