Every year since 1952, Neiman Marcus' famous Christmas Book catalog has offered a collection of especially lavish products, now known as its Fantasy Gifts. The first year, you could buy a live bull with a silver barbecue cart. Other years the available items included a $5,000 baby elephant, a $17,500 "Domestic Robot System" and Napoleon's spectacles for $90,000.
This year, you can live in a home famous throughout the design world: architect Philip Johnson's modernist Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut.
At least, you can live there for one night.
But you'll have to spend $30,000 for the privilege.
All of the proceeds will go to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, for which the Glass House is an extreme rarity: Of the trust's 2,000 properties, only the Glass House and one other are modernist.
An overnight visit is also exceedingly rare. According to the New York Times, which just published Guy Trebay's account of "Bedtime Under Glass":
True, there was the time he lent the house to clients for a weekend, taking up temporary residence in an adjacent structure. “But he said, ‘Once and never again,’ ” Hilary Lewis, an art historian and Johnson scholar, explained recently by telephone from Miami.
“Philip thought guests were nuisances,” Ms. Lewis said. “So unless you were dating Philip Johnson, you probably never spent the night.”
Two people have purchased Neiman Marcus' "Glass House Experience" so far, an official told Yahoo Homes, and a third is expected to confirm soon.
The house, completed in 1949, is less than 1,800 square feet, with an open-plan design that was radical at the time. Johnson described different areas of the house as "rooms," but really, only the bathroom is its own room (enclosed in a brick cylinder, along with the fireplace). A rug and seating define the living area; walnut storage cabinets delineate the "bedroom"; low cabinets mark out the kitchen.
The interior is the same as it was when Johnson lived there. "The only thing that changed was the weather and the time of day," one visitor recalled. But the rigorous simplicity that defines the Glass House was hard-won: Johnson and Whitney meticulously managed even the landscape to produce the effect.
"One of the first times I visited him there I said, 'Philip, it’s so incredible that you’ve found this location for your house, because you’re not aware of being in it, you’re just aware of this incredible landscape.' Philip said, 'Yes, I was very fortunate.' And then he said, 'David, I think next year we’ll put those trees over there.' And I suddenly had an insight into how he thought."
Or, as Johnson put it simply, "I have very expensive wallpaper."
This soundless video by New Canaan High School students shows the Glass House throughout a day:
Here's artist Frank Stella touring the property, including its dozen or so other buildings: