A look back at the midcentury home design of Playboy


From left: George Nelson, Edward Wormley, Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia, Chaarles Eames, and Jens Risom.

Here's something that may come as a bit of a surprise: the Playboy Magazine of olde was rife with swank home design tidbits, promoting such major players as Eero Saarinen, Charles Eames, Mies van der Rohe, and John Lautner. The May 1962 issue, for example, included all sorts of Esquire-esque furnishing advice, as well as a tour of the ultimate bachelor pad: a three-story, "modishly swinging manor for the modern man." In 1961, Playboy lined up the most famed designers of the era for a spread about the future of manly-man decor (above).



In fact, some Dutch museum curators and architecture academics at Princeton decided there's enough midcentury design in Hugh Hefner's mag to warrant an exhibition; Playboy Architecture, 1953-1979 just ended, after five months at NAiM/Bureau Europa in Maastricht, The Netherlands. The exhibition demonstrated "how architecture was mobilized to shape a new sexual and consumer identity for the American male, and how architectural taste became critical to the art of seduction." Translation: the masterminds behind Playboy told bachelors everywhere that the Mad Men aesthetic—tulip chairs, round beds, custom built-ins—was sure to impress lady friends, and, well, everybody listened. See more Playboy design below.



Seen in Playboy's "posh plans for exciting urban living:" Saarinen chairs by Knoll, a "scuba-eye" view of the pool, an LP-tape library, remote-controlled drapes, lots of teak paneling, and "a roof sun deck for summer simmering."

In the bedroom: the rotating Playboy Bed (initially featured in the November 1959 issue) with a "360-degree base to take full advantage of a romantic fire" and a brandy nightcap, already poured from the bar hidden away in the headboard.

The magazine describes the home as "an ultra-urban island of individuality in a sea of look-alike multiple dwellings." In 2010, an animator created a virtual pad based on Playboy's town house. Right this way.


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