Alison & Peter Smithson
Copyright: RIBA Library Drawings Collection
Palladio lives on!
We have seen how influential the work of Andrea Palladio has been on the architecture of Great Britain and the United States, and that the adjective ‘Palladian’ has been loosely used in descriptions of eighteenth century mansions, even though the architecture of these buildings may bear little relation to the work of the architect himself.
We have seen too how ‘Palladian’ villas are still being commissioned by the wealthiest of clients. Moreover, the very expressions ‘Palladio’ and ‘Palladian’ have been widely adopted by advertisers and branding executives (particularly in the United States) to market a whole host of ‘desirable’ products, from cosmetics to wheels for racing cars!
Most of the products sold under the name Palladio are marketed as quality timeless items for discerning (and affluent) homeowners aspiring to the art of gracious living of the highest order. These include chandeliers, clocks, furniture, reproduction fireplaces, hi fi speakers, hydrotherapy tubs, tableware, wallpaper and wine accessories. Nor are products for the garden ignored: these range from simple planters to the most elegant of chicken houses and dovecotes, such as might be displayed at London's Chelsea Flower Show.
Not surprisingly the brand is used extensively for beauty products for both men and women, with accessories ranging from exclusive limited edition fountain pens to designer sunglasses. It is still possible, then, to live in a ‘Palladian’ world! Nevertheless, the film ‘Palladio’, described as “an interactive movie about lust, greed, art and advertising”, suggests a darker side to all this consumerism.