The home of the future is a popular sci-fi trope for the same reason that the digitised cityscape or flying vehicle is. It represents a familiar part of our lives, and yet provides endless opportunities to speculate how our daily existence might change in 30, 50 or 100 years. Consider the opening scene of 1968’s Barbarella. Besides Ms Jane Fonda sensuously removing her space costume, the viewer is also invited to observe the interiors of her space pod – walls covered in an ochre plush, video-phone, robotic operating system.
Imagining the home of the future was a popular idea among designers and architects in the middle of the last century. Take Ms Alison and Mr Peter Smithson’s 1956 “House Of The Future”, a model of a modernist home built around a courtyard that supplied all the natural light in lieu of windows, which had every appliance hidden in individual cabinets. But how close did they come to the reality of how we live now? That’s the question explored by a new exhibition entitled Home Futures, which opened yesterday at The Design Museum in London. Although mid-century modernism has enjoyed a revival of late as fashionable home decor inspiration, comparing the purposefully futuristic designs of the past century with contemporary innovation is equal parts interesting and amusing.