Evil People in Modernist Homes in Popular Film: Ben Critton

Curator: Kelli Anderson
date: April 11, 2012
Categories: Book & Magazine Design, Typography
Tags: architecture, Ben Critton, bond, modernism, newsprint, tabloid
ᔥ Kelli Anderson

Why is nefarious mustache twirling* always performed against a backdrop of clean lines and geometric volumes*? (*and/or hairless-cat petting)

Why can’t all tabloids be titled like they’re homages to Barbara Kruger?


Designer Ben Critton has assembled a revealing and hilarious study of modernist “lairs” from popular films. Within the tabloid-magazine format, each is presented as a case study with the villain’s portrait, the lair (duh), film-title treatment, and the actual address of the house (should you desire to see these stunning places in a less treacherous context). He takes us from places in James Bond films to the Big Lebowski to Blade Runner. Here’s a bevy of modernist film-villain lairs plotted on a Google map.






An essay by Steve Rose entitled “James Bond, Enemy of Architecturesets the tone for these case studies with a little bit of historical background. The implication is that this film trope may have all started with Ian Fleming (Bond’s creator) and a couple of destroyed Victorian buildings:


“If Bond has a problem with architecture it can probably be traced back to his creator, Ian Fleming, who was certainly no fan of modernism. He even went as far as to name one of his best baddies after Erno Goldfinger, architect of London’s Trellick Tower among others. Goldfinger the architect was apparently a neighbour of Fleming’s in Hampstead, and the conservation-minded author was incensed when he demolished two Victorian houses to build his now-classic modern villas on Willow Road. So he returned the insult by lending Goldfinger’s name to his fictional gold-loving megalomaniac. Another, less controversial version of the story has it that Fleming played golf with Goldfinger’s wife’s cousin, but either way, poor Erno tried and failed to stop Fleming from appropriating his name, and had to bear the association for the rest of his life.”


I’m grateful that Critton took his talent for cultural pattern finding and married it with his offbeat typography skills in order to make such a delightful object. I thus declare this the best observation-as-magazine-theme ever—and the whole thing’s the color of ketchup and mustard! Go get yourself one and you’ll be equipped with a bit more context the next time you sit down to giggle at pictures of unhappy hipsters and wonder why it’s so funny.

  • nigel@coates.com

    The premise for this is lifted word for word from Thom Anderson’s film ‘Los Angeles Plays Itself’ without any credit. Why doesn’t anyone notice this?

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