Book Scavenger: Interiors for Today (1975)

by Jason Toon

You can't judge any era by its most, uh, let's say, innovative ideas. Almost nobody lived through the 1970s in the kinds of over-the-top homes shown in Interiors for Today, Franco Magnani's 1975 ode to a future that never quite arrived (no, not even in Europe). And yet, it's hard not to feel that something in the human spirit had gone deeply wrong for these alienating, gimmicky rooms to be considered the homes of tomorrow. I'll admit admiring the audacity of some of these ideas - just as long as I don't have to live in them...

Magnani says: "the decor depends primarily on the precise, clear-cut space and the contrast between black and white."
Toon says: the Italians were scrupulous about using every part of the zebra.

Magnani says: "a distinctly unusual weekend house."
Toon says: "Sorry, we just moved in. No, I don't have a forwarding address for Mr. Blofeld."

Magnani says: "The large poster and prominent pattern on the curtains complete an original effect."
Toon says: in Europe, those Special K ads were a lot more erotic.

Magnani says: "At home with nature could be the caption for this scene."
Toon says: yes, actually, I have been living under a rock.

Magnani says: "a casual living-room characterized by the ceiling panelled in geometric sections."
Toon says: tell me there isn't at least one issue of OMNI in this house.

Magnani says: "Everything is green and plastic in this essentially restful dining area."
Toon says: in the original Italian, "restful" translates more exactly to "a nice place to come down from a three-day coke binge."

Magnani says: "This bedroom is characterized by the beautiful silver and white wallpaper."
Toon says: "I don't understand it: I can get chicks to come back to my place, but for some reason I can never close the deal."

Magnani says: "Good use of the contrast between various colours and chrome metal."
Toon says: yes, I love the contrast between blue, blue, and blue.

Magnani says: "Even in a bathroom of limited size... you can indulge your imagination without falling back on the usual ubiquitous tiling."
Toon says: "Yeah, I got the place really cheap after the cops shut down the nightclub that used to be here. Wait until you see the bathroom."

Magnani says: "Most effective sleeping area."
Toon says: Nothing soothes me to sleep like giant sheets of cut blue glass.

Magnani says: "a most unusual and original bedroom."
Toon says: When space-age aluminum walls and mirrored ceilings are combined with pre-Columbian sculpture, the total effect is more repellent than the sum of its parts.

Magnani says: "A young person's room, all in red. Bed, desk, chairs, and cabinets are all plastic."
Toon says: Why just listen to the White Stripes when you can live in one of their album covers?

Magnani says: "Its solid volume, which incorporates ample cupboard space, is relieved by the decoration in diagonal lines."
Toon says: C'mon iiiiiiin / and pull yourself up a chair

Magnani says: "It is particularly interesting that the whole library area... can be moved both vertically and horizontally, controlled by an electronic mechanism."
Toon says: as seen in the May 1974 issue of Better Domes & Rotundas.

Magnani says: "(The) chimney cowl, covered in sculptured steel panels, lends great decorative appeal to the room."
Toon says: yeah, because the enormous Op Art curtains and the leopard-print pillows weren't "appealing" enough.

There's much, much more where this came from in Interiors of Today. It captures a moment when the faint echoes of midecentury modern, the hangover of hippie rusticity, and the early stirrings of the proto-yuppie style came together to point the way toward an unholy future. Although that future didn't turn out exactly the way Magnani thought it would, the look of the upscale '80s indeed started here, when Barbarella met Patrick Bateman's older brother.

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