Unlike old-money elites, who are more likely to adhere to long-established aesthetic traditions, self-made upstarts are often more accepting to changing styles. Hoping to become trendsetters, these parvenus often align themselves with other fledgling talents or those attempting to redefine their respective disciplines.
Though this transaction brings challenges, coming up in society together can be a great advantage. Putting trust in creatives who have yet to prove themselves can be risky. However, the ability to defend each other’s approach, pool resources, and share the limelight ensures that both parties achieve some form of success.
One has only to think of the emerging European industrial class in the late 19th century and its appropriation of the art nouveau style as a means to differentiate itself from the old guard, assert its new affluent position, and express its progressive values. In turn, this new societal group was able to offer support for a nascent architectural movement.
There is no better precedent for this exchange, especially since the early 20th century, than the relationships that have formed between celebrities and architects. Entertainment superstars have often called on their design counterparts to design homes that represent their wildest dreams. In many cases, architects are given carte blanche and limitless budgets. Such projects offer them the chance to flex their muscles and to express new styles or articulate new theories.
A recently-opened exhibition at the Villa Noailles in Hyères, France, seeks to better understand this particular phenomenon. Curated by Audrey Teichmann, Benjamin Lafore, and Sébastien Martinez Barat, Houses for Superstars L’architecture hypermédiatisée surveys this theme from different perspectives.