Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Barbie now has an architect designed dream house

If you are frequent readers of this blog, you probably remember back in May when the AIA Barbie® Dream House™ Design Competition challenged AIA members to design a dream house for this worldwide but oh so American icon. Well, the results came out this month: from only 30 submissions, a panel of jurors selected five finalists with input from Mattel’s own team of Barbie® experts. They then invited the public to choose their favorite design. Almost 9,000 people, children, but also those still feeling like children at heart, voted. The result: Barbie’s dream house is the quintessential Malibu beach house; it is modern, functional, spacious, fun and most of all sustainable. The design submitted by Ting Li, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP and Maja Paklar, Assoc. AIA, received the most public votes, out of the 8,470 votes registered.

The press release from Mattel tells us how Architect Barbie designed her house:

Naturally the newly minted Architect Barbie took on the task of designing her own dream house. She is creative, fashionable, busy and powerful. She has gone through years of training to become a leading figure in her field. She is LEED AP and a member of the AIA. Although she is an internationally renowned globe trotter, when not travelling she loves to look smart, entertain her potential clients, and come up with innovative ideas in her high-tech, low energy consumption home.

The concept of this house reflects exactly who Barbie is in her new profession. She has pledged to build an environmentally sustainable home using the principals set forth by USGBC as well as to stay true to all the needs of a classic California girl! The house is situated on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The entrance faces north-west and the main body of the building has a panoramic view of the ocean. Distinct building programs are specific to each floor, connected by a center core of spiral stairs. 

The stairs rise around a hollow tube , which becomes Barbie’s tower closet. Since Barbie is the original fashionista, she inevitabily accumulated a large volume of enviable designer labels. This computer controlled closet allows for the clothes to be displayed and visible from every angle of the house. It also makes dressing easy: she can select her outfit, push a button, and the outfit is delivered to her bedroom via the double helix moving rack.

The house features 1,500 sq.f. of entertaining space and chef’s open kitchen on the first floor. A Steven Jobs approved office / library / meeting space as well as 500 sq.f. of terrace on the second floor. The third and fourth floors are Barbie’s private enclave, her bedroom and her inspiration room respectively. The roof has a green house and a landscaped garden for her domestic pets.

The design elements include solar panels, landscaped rooftop and irrigation system, operable shading devices, bamboo flooring, low flow toilet and sink fixtures, and locally sourced and manufactured materials and furnishings.

A joint statement from Ms. Li and Ms. Paklar stated, “We are very honored to have been chosen by AIA and Mattel as a finalist and as the public favourite - Barbie was both of ours’ favorite doll growing up in China and Croatia. We appreciate the versatility of our profession which allows us to express ourselves in a myriad of ways - from entirely built city environments to a Barbie Dream House. We hope to encourage more young female architects to flex their design muscles and just to have fun with architecture.”

“The intent of the partnership with Mattel to promote the launch of Architect Barbie was to engage and inspire young girls to experience the world of architecture and the range of possibilities that design thinking offers,” said AIA President, Clark Manus, FAIA. “We are thrilled that this initiative was so well received by the public and congratulations to the finalists and especially the winners of the design competition, Ms. Li and Ms. Paklar. Their submissions did an excellent job of showcasing the innovative approaches that architects reflect in the design of projects of all types.”

The bad news is that the architects’ submissions including the winning design, will not be produced by Mattel. The good news is that the creators of the winning design will have a $1000 donation made in their name to CHAD, a charter high school in Philadelphia focused on architecture and design. Bit AIA does not write if they or Mattel are making the donation.

Most text and info through The American Institute of Architects

BARBIE and associated trademarks and trade dress are owned by Mattel, Inc. ©2011 Mattel, Inc. All Rights, Reserved. Photos courtesy of Mattel, Inc.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Breakfast at Tiffany's : 50 years anniversary of a legendary film

Audrey Hepburn has always been a fashion icon, even from her first forays into acting. She always attracted attention not only for her good looks and gamine figure but also her impeccable sense of style and pick of outfits. The fashion doll world could not stay away from her, although only one company managed to secure the rights for a doll in her likeness: Mattel. They did a gorgeous two doll - two outfits series about her as she appeared in the Breakfast at Tiffany's film back in 1998, which I was lucky enough to obtain some years ago. Now Integrity secured a deal with Paramount, celebrating the film's 50th anniversary, to release a series of dolls (not in the star's likeness). I was inspired by this and got one of my Audrey's out (the other is wearing a My Fair Lady costume) along with the film's outfits to make a shoot. Immediately I thought that I could show them on other dolls to make it more interesting. So here is my homage to Breakfast At Tiffany's 50th anniversary!

First of all is the original Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly doll from Mattel. This was one of two dolls released in her likeness. She was wearing the black long column dress from the opening scene of Audrey in front of Tiffany's. Here she dons the famous little black dress that came as a separate outfit set. It came with all the accessories pictured. Of course all her outfits in this film were designed by Givenchy.

The doll is a very good likeness of the actress. The clothes are very well made too, although not reaching the quality Integrity has gotten us used to. They are not cheap play-line Barbie either though and I can say that for their 13 years they have aged pretty well - the doll too.

The unfortunate thing is that the doll is not very poseable. Little articulation (the Mattel bane) in shoulders, waist, hips and the infamous click knees does little to help show off Audrey as she was in the film. I have seen one transfer of this head to an articulated body and it looked nice - I might try one but do not trust myself to do it yet.

As I mentioned earlier, this doll came originally with the black column dress. I had put that on Camera Lights Action Veronique Perrin from Fashion Royalty dolls for another shoot and it stayed there. She looks a natural for an Audrey substitute with her piled up hair and cute smile so here she is.

I used a Silkstone brooch as a tiara substitute for her hair. The necklace, earrings and shoes are Fashion Royalty, the bracelet you see in some of her photos is a Dressmaker Details Couture necklace while the dress, gloves, glasses and stole are all Mattel. This set had the coffee cup and bagel paper bag included.

She looks a bit like Angelina Jolie as well at the photo above! As the FR dolls are taller than Barbies, the dress looks a bit short for her long, lean legs. Not bad though. 

She is a natural for Audrey! I think even her new sculpt, with the right hairdo would look great in these outfits.

Of course the articulated body helps a lot. My Veronique's body has started to yellow though so it is good that this outfit has long opera length gloves and the stole to help cover it up.

This is the back of the dress with the scalloped details. I wish I had a better styled necklace (or like the one of the film) to match though.

Now it was Poppy's turn to show if she could pass as an Audrey. The Holly Golightly Integrity doll has the Poppy body (without the articulated ankles) so I was optimistic about it. Here she is sporting the Cat Mask outfit from the Mattel line (released as an outfit separate set). All accessories are from the original set, even the pantyhose.

The outfit consists of a halter neck tweed dress (the Integrity version has the top made of a different fabric but in the film it is like Mattel's version shown here) worn under an orange coat. A fur hat, leather bag, gloves, shoes, glasses and a cat mask are the rest of the accessories. The original dolls sported non-removable pearl stud earrings, not faithful to the drop earrings Audrey is wearing in the film.

Teetering on the narrow and high Mattel heels, Poppy looks great in the Givenchy designed outfits - it is her era after all, early 60s. Of course her small bust cannot fill the dress.

The Poppy shown here is As Tears Go By Poppy, from Integrity's last year convention. With her raven hair in an up-do she gets really close to being Holly - much better IMHO than the Holly sculpt.

As I really liked Poppy in these outfits, I kept her for the last one too. Pink Princess was released as a dressed doll - exactly the same doll as the original Audrey but with a pink tiara. As I did not have one, I used a brooch from a Gene Marshall Integrity outfit as a substitute - without any pink on it. 

This ensemble consists of a pink dress with transparent crystals embroidered on it, worn under a satin pink coat, a matching clutch, white gloves and pink shoes (the ones in the photo shoot are from another outfit as the originals did not want to stay on Poppy's larger feet).

The Integrity dress looks more faithful and detailed than the Mattel one here, especially regarding the embroidery and the clutch, which is small and white in the film. The top layer of the skirt also is too puffed out from the underskirt - they should have looked more like one layer.

Poppy looks like having fun - and so did I! Doing this project was a nice way to re-discover some things from my collection I had not seen in ages and also remind myself of why I do not need to buy these again in their new incarnations (although I must make a couple of cigarette holders for my dolls!). I hope you enjoyed it too and please let me know how are the Integrity Holly dolls if you get any. Here's to another 50 years for Breakfast At Tiffany's and the enduring appeal of Holly Golightly and Audrey Hepburn.