Museum Re-Creates Playboy Pad

CHICAGO.- An upcoming exhibit at the Elmhurst Art Museum titled ‘Playboy Architecture, 1953-1979’ will represent somewhat of a spiritual return for the famed men's lifestyle brand after being founded in the Windy City in 1953.

Though Playboy is best known for its provocative centerfold models, the exhibit will explore the magazine's role in setting the aesthetic tone of post-war America.

Early on Playboy recognized the changing styles of the 20th century and ran features on architectural heavyweights such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Buckminster Fuller, and Mies van der Rohe.

Cutting-edge design was paramount in establishing the look and feel of the Playboy brand and, in turn, the publication’s idealization of the modern bachelor pad became synonymous with cool, influencing generations to follow.

The ‘Playboy Architecture, 1953-1979’ exhibit will be divided into thematic sections exploring the magazine's influence on interior decor, urban design, transportation, and music.

Curated by Professor Beatriz Colomina and Pep Aviles in collaboration with the Ph.D. program of the School of Architecture and the Media and Modernity program at Princeton University, the exhibition showcases how architecture and design played a role in creating the Playboy fantasy as well as how Playboy magazine came to influence the world of architecture and design.

Staged in the Mies van der Rohe-designed McCormick House at Elmhurst Art Museum, the exhibition will feature detailed models of archetypal design projects such as the Playboy Townhouse and “Big Bunny,” the largest and most luxurious private aircraft in existence, designed for Hugh Hefner by Elmhurst resident Daniel Czubak.

The exhibition is divided into sections devoted to themes explored in the magazine’s articles and images such as Playboy pads (including bedrooms and closets), cities, vehicles, music and the art of seduction. The magazine had enormous influence on interior decor, urban design, transportation, and music.

An archive of Playboy magazine issues from the period is also included. Unique to this U.S. presentation, never-before- exhibited memorabilia from the personal collection of 1976 Playboy Bunny of the Year, Chicagoan Candace Jordan will be part of the exhibition, including her Bunny of the Year full costume, the pageant program and her trophy.

Elmhurst Art Museum’s presentation of Playboy Architecture 1953-1979 was designed by Cristóbal Amunátegui, a partner in Amunátegui Valdés Architects (Santiago, Chile). The exhibition was previously displayed in the Netherlands at Bureau Europa (Maastricht) in 2012. The U.S. debut of Playboy Architecture, 1953-1979 is made possible by Gigi and James Owens.

A robust roster of public programs will be presented over the summer, including talks by the exhibition’s curator Beatriz Colomina (Princeton), author of Domesticity at War and The Ghost of Mies; Professor Elizabeth Fraterrigo (Loyola), author of Playboy and the Making of the Good Life in America; and Candace

In addition to drawings, photos, and scale models of Playboy-inspired architecture, the museum’s Mies van der Rohe-designed McCormick House will be staged with iconic midcentury modern furnishings as it is reimagined as the ultimate retro swingers pad.

The exhibition will be making its US debut at the Elmhurst Art Museum after a previous stint at the Bureau Europa gallery of architecture and design in the Netherlands. It will run between May 7 and August 28.