Sensuous Space: How to Create Romantic, Seductive and Sensuous Settings

If Herbert Marcuse did a lot of cocaine and ditched critical theory for interior design he might have penned this very much of its time coffee table book: Sensuous Space: How to Create Romantic, Seductive and Sensuous Settings by Sivon Reznikoff. Reznikoff owned the Louisiana Interior Design Institute in Baton Rouge, and was a professor of Environmental/Interior Design at Arizona State University. She adopted a gender ambiguous name in order to work in the male dominated field of architecture and interior design.

I reference Marcuse because this tome has much more theory in it than you’d expect. Before you get to the photo spreads of shag rug lined love dens and teal penthouses you’ll encounter thirty pages of thoughtstylings and graphs. Reznikoff posits three types of Eros driven spaces: romantic, seductive and sensuous that then break out into specific color, form texture, musical and even scent suggestions over the many pages of charts, spreadsheets and graphs. We’re 30 pages in by the time we see our first hot tub.

The power nexus of the erotic panopticons in this book are, naturally, your disco control centers because your house must have its own private discotheque. I don’t know how you keep the blow from gumming up the electronics.

Of course, such idiosyncratic spaces are the domain of the ultra-wealthy who can afford serial remodeling. Reznikoff notes that many of these spaces are second homes. A particular class of nouveau riche spring for this kind of sensual ostentation. The really wealthy elite go for austere modernist boxes to make a show that they put their money back into capital accumulation rather than spending it on gold swan faucets and pebble lined hot tubs.

The interior sensuousness of this book ended in the AIDS/Reagan era 80s  and now you’re more likely to see the nouveau riche class burn their cash by building an underground town simulacrum in their McMansions.

The last time we saw this kind of decadent sexuality in architecture was the Art Nouveau period of the 1890s and early 20th century which ended in the horrors of WWI. Its reappearance comes intertwined with the liberatory politics of the 60s and 70s but those same left movements can prove prudish. Perhaps the flipper white cubes will get all funky and sinuous in our Acid Communist future and maybe we’ll have a more expanded and nuanced view of what “eros” means than the reductionist wife swapping parties of the Sensuous Spaces era. My shag conversation pit lacks a crystal ball.

Thanks to Cocaine Decor for tipping me off to this book.

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