This issue of AD is dedicated to interiors where main inhabitants are children. There are several reasons why we think that August is a month, best fit for this topic. First of all, in Russia school starts in September, so August is the last month when parents can renovate something in his/her room while the child’s still away (on sea resorts or at the grandmother’s dacha). There is also a sentimental reason: August is the last month of summer, and in my opinion is has the acutest “childhood” feeling about it. School holidays are about to end, and their charm is felt stronger than ever, and there are so many things one has to do in those remaining free weeks: to fall off an apple tree, to have that last long swim, to jump over the campfire while evenings are getting really dark and damp, and one also needs to gather mushrooms… Well, you know what I mean. Anyway, this issue is about children and how they influence our homes and interiors. Their influence is radical: there is a big Special Section on children’s rooms in the issue, but it by no means covers the topic. The point is that children cannot be contained in the rooms specially given to them. Tenderly and unstoppably they occupy our homes and control them completely. They are like lovers in a song by poet Okudzhava: “great, immortal army”. And — to quote further — I agree with the poet: they are “the only army I support”.
Stars, Bars and Cars
My uncle Robert Haslam, born in 1878, spent much of his carefree youth tootling round Europe in those newfangled machines — motorcars. Until he eventually settled down to his chosen profession of architect, Robert drove, ever-faster, in a series of these latest models, to and from the casinos and spas of the Continent. And in my childhood, I recall him roaring up the drive to our country house, his sleek vehicle a long, shiny, dark green cabriolet, the envy of my elder brothers. Those cars were, of course, Bentleys. A couple of months ago, architecture and Bentleys came together to give me the most fascinating, indeed thrilling, experiences one could hope for. It happened one spring day in New York. I’d lived in that city for a several years in the 1960s. At a party the second night after I’d arrived I met Philip Johnson, the great architect. Philip suggested I spent some weekends at the home he had recently built in a wooded Connecticut Valley. I remember the drive we had there — what I saw beside the road was the America of my cinema fuelled dreams: soaring iron bridges over the East River, squalid tenements of Harlem, fading mansions of Bronxville and innocent communities like of the ones in which my film heroes Robert Wagner and Sandra Dee, acted out Hollywood teen dramas. Then the Parkways, wide ribbons carved magisterially though the forested landscape; a dark lake round one curve, a rocky river tumbling beside the next. And then, there, just below, the evening sun glittering on its simple, transparent structure, was the Glass House. I never envisaged anything like its unique, noble, yet unmistakably American purity. Now, in this Manhattan spring morning, I was to relive that long-ago drive. On Lexington Avenue, in the lee of the Waldorf Astoria, a group of Bentaygas, Bentley’s first essay into the SUV market, were ready to depart. The doormen whistled approvingly. The crowd on the sidewalk stopped and stared. And the fabulous fleet has sailed on, we were on our voyage of delight and discovery. Again there were the soaring bridges, the neon-lit liquor stores and garish gas stations and parkways, sliding by as mere blurs. Some drivers cast speed limits to the winds, and for a second draw up beside us, mouths