Adventures in Fantasyland
Judith Davidsen -- Interior Design, 3/1/2007 12:00:00 AM
Fantasy is to interior design what dress-up is to children: necessary. In both cases, we try on alternate realities for a time. Fantasy is a way of staying emotionally and mentally alive. Spending time in a room where lacy valentines or decadent angels rule can also raise questions about how we live under ordinary circumstances: Do we have fun there, too?
Of course, whenever we engage in fantasy, some self-appointed parent figure generally scolds us about running away from reality. However, the favorite fantasy characters of recent years—Harry Potter, the Hobbits, the Narnia gang—work honestly to figure out very real-life issues of who we are and how to live. So do police procedurals, espionage novels, and some of the least earthbound ballets. We tell stories to make sense of the world.
In Fantasy Furniture, Bruce Newman and Alistair Duncan's 1989 book published in conjunction with an exhibition of the same name at New York's National Academy of Design, fantasy was rendered as an exquisite rarity. By contrast, that decade's Memphis movement—love it or hate it—asked designers to embrace the idea of "form follows fantasy."
Possibly the most pragmatic use of fantasy is the computer walk-through, sometimes fly-through. Designers use these 3-D simulations to show interiors to clients—who finally admitted they'd only been pretending to understand plans and elevations.