Beyond the building: Is the latest V&A show Tomorrow a big joke on architects?
Outside the Victoria & Albert Museum in London is a huge hoarding advertising a “unique property” – a “new residential development at a prime cultural heritage location.” There’s also a website to go to for interested parties – crownproperty.info
It’s all a huge joke, of course. Those who click on to the website will find themselves at a page on the Victoria & Albert museum for the artists Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset show Tomorrow. What’s so interesting is that this installation is the fictitious home of a 75-year-old unsuccessful architect called Norman Swann.
Pic 2. Bedroom of Tomorrow by Elmgreen & Dragset
But what does this tell us about the stereotype of the architect?
According to the Boyer Report: “Architecture schools should stop perpetrating the myth of the architect as visionary genius and encourage, along with design and theory, training in management, technology, and do everything in their power to discourage future generations of prima donna architects.”
Pic 3. Industrial-strength kitchen
I’d really like to ask some architects to see the show and tell me whether it misrepresents the profession to society.
Would this belong to an architect?
The artists explain how they started work on Tomorrow: “While selecting objects to furnish the apartment we began to envision pieces of dialogue between characters that we could imagine might inhabit the space,” explain the artists.
“So we wrote a script. It was sort of a reversed process where the props in our film set initiated the narrative. Now it’s our hope that visitors will interact with this set and discover their own clues as to who our fictional and quite eccentric inhabitant might be.”
The style of the house was traditional, old fashioned and tastefully furnished. The ultra-modern kitchen jarred as it was so out of keeping in terms of style and also Swann’s character. I don’t think his cooking ventured much further than a boiled egg.
It also reminded me of house viewings – would I buy this house? Yes I certainly would. Swann might be facing bankruptcy and forced to sell his home but he will get a few million for it and retire to Brighton, living happily ever after.
Author Fiona Keating, Editor at Inside Property