Friday, November 08, 2019


Lair: Radical Homes and Hideouts of Movie Villains
Chad Oppenheim, Andrea Gollin (Editors)
Tra Publishing, November 2019

Hardcover | 9-1/4 x 13 inches | 296 pages | 200+ illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-1732297869 | $75.00

Publisher's Description:
From Atlantis in The Spy Who Loved Me to Nathan Bateman's ultra-modern abode in Ex Machina, big-screen villains tend to live in architectural splendor. The villain’s lair, as popularized in many of our favorite movies, is much more than where the megalomaniac goes to get some rest. Instead, the homes of the villains are places where evil is plotted and where, often, the hero is tested and must prove him/herself. Like evil itself, the abodes of movie villains are frequently compelling and seductive. From a design standpoint, they tend to be stunning, sophisticated, envy-inducing expressions of the warped drives and desires of their occupants. Lair, the first title in Tra Publishing's Design + Film series, celebrates and considers several iconic villain’s lairs from recent film history. The book, strikingly designed in silver ink on black paper, explores the architectural design of these structures through architectural illustrations and renderings, photographs, essays, film analyses, interviews, and more. Editorial contributors include Chad Oppenheim, Michael Mann, Sir Christopher Frayling, Joseph Rosa, Amy Murphy, Andrea Gollin, and Phillip Valys. Architectural illustrations and renderings are by Carlos Fueyo. Highlights include interviews with production designers, directors, and other industry professionals such as Ralph Eggleston, Mark Digby, Richard Donner, Roger Christian, David Scheunemann, and Gregg Henry, along with excerpts from an oral history with the late architect John Lautner. From futuristic fantasies to deathtrap-laden hives, from dwellings in space to those under the sea, pop culture and architecture join forces in these outlandish homes and in Lair, which appreciates and celebrates all things villain. Lair features villains’ homes from fifteen films, including Dr. Strangelove, The Incredibles, Blade Runner 2049, and You Only Live Twice.
dDAB Commentary:
Some years ago I was browsing the books and zines at Printed Matter in Chelsea and came across Benjamin Critton's Evil People in Modernist Homes in Popular Films, a "serious but lighthearted investigation of the representation of Modernist architecture in popular film." Being an architect who loves films and discussions of architecture in films, I couldn't resist buying it. Printed on large newsprint, the zine's lightheartedness comes primarily from its design: a palette of yellow and pink that even extends to the texts (pink on white) that include Joseph Rosa's "Tearing Down the House: Modern Homes in the Movies" from the 2000 book Architecture and Film. With only around a dozen books and other publications exploring the relationship between architecture and cinema, I was excited about the release of Lair: Radical Homes and Hideouts of Movie Villains, which obviously treads a similar ground to Evil People. Yet where the nearly ten-year-old zine balanced evil with colorful lightheartedness, Lair goes all in and puts its fifteen studies of villains' hideouts in silver ink on black paper: The medium and the message are wound tightly together.

Besides the inclusion of that same Joseph Rosa essay, additional comparisons between Lair and Evil People are pointless, since Lair delves deeply into the shared subject but broadens it to encapsulate a variety of settings beyond modernist homes: a hollowed-out volcano, a subterranean grotto, a submersible laboratory shaped like a "metallic octopus," even a moon-sized weapon. Furthermore, accompanying the descriptions and documentation of fifteen films — ranging from 1960s James Bond films to the recent blockbuster Blade Runner 2049 — are interviews with people involved with the production design for some of the films, an excerpt from an old interview with John Lautner (his houses have been lived in by film villains more than any other architect), and a conversation between Chad Oppenheim and Michael Mann, who set his Miami Vice movie in one of Oppenheim's Miami houses. These interviews add depth to the book, but it's the explorations of the films that steal the show (sorry, I couldn't resist that phrase). There are stills from the movies and a consistent structure with descriptions of their plots, villains, and lairs, but there are also drawings (more accurately illustrations and renderings created from 3d computer models) that depict the lairs in ways movies cannot: in section, as cutaway perspectives, as good 'ol floor plans. These illustrations by Carlos Fueyo make this special book — with its large silver-on-black format and highly tactile paper — that much more beautiful.

Author Bio:
Chad Oppenheim is a Miami-based architect whose work has been praised for its ability to transform the prosaic into the poetic. ... In 1999, he founded Oppenheim Architecture (Miami, Basel, New York), which has garnered global recognition for largescale urban architecture, hotels and resorts, private residences, interiors, and furnishings. Andrea Gollin is an editor, publishing consultant, and writer. She has edited dozens of books and exhibitions catalogues, including Robert Winthrop Chanler: Discovering the Fantastic (The Monacelli Press). She is a graduate of Princeton University and received an MFA from the writing program at University of Virginia.
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