How Playboy Pushed the Pleasures of Modern Design

A new exhibition at the NAiM/Bureau Europa, in the Netherlands, examines the debt of gratitude that designers such as Mies van der Rohe, John Lautner, and George Nelson owe to the men's magazine for its promotion of the design trends of the day.

Since its founding in 1953 by Hugh Hefner, Playboy has not only featured images of beautiful women, but endeavored to inform its readers how to woo such women. Or, as Belinda Lanks explains, "it taught [the American male] how he could leverage architecture and design to bag a babe."

"That’s the thesis of Architecture in Playboy, 1953–1979, an exhibition at the NAiM/Bureau Europa, in the Netherlands, that explores how the magazine depicted the major design players of the time. And it’s actually not too much of a stretch. Almost from its very start, Playboy made a point of featuring architect’s big shots, from Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe to Buckminster Fuller and John Lautner. And who can forget the famous (and downright respectable) spread featuring the midcentury design greats George Nelson, Edward Wormley, Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia, Charles Eames, and Jens Risom with their respective chairs?"

"The message here: Architecture and design are major forces influencing the world, and if you’re not familiar with the heavy hitters, perhaps you’re not a Playboy."

Full Story: How “Playboy” Magazine Helped Make Eames And Mies Famous


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