In a remarkable piece from New York magazine regarding the liberal world’s MVP, Paul Krugman, the author described the genesis of Krugman’s 2006 book:
When he was writing The Conscience of a Liberal, Krugman found himself searching for a way to describe his own political Eden, his vision of America before the Fall. He knew the moment that he wanted to describe: the fifties and early sixties, when prosperity was not only broad but broadly shared. Wells, looking over a draft, thought his account was too numerical, too cold. She suggested that he describe his own childhood, in the middle-class suburb of Merrick, Long Island. And so Krugman began writing with an almost choking nostalgia, the sort of feeling that he usually despises: “The political and economic environment of my youth stands revealed as a paradise lost, an exceptional moment in our nation’s history …”
Krugman’s own vision of a lost utopia on Long Island, during that bright post-war bloom of middle class prosperity, which must have had seemed so full of limitless potential and opportunity but somehow lurched toward our current state of contraction, pulled apart and forgotten by the twin poles of unimaginable wealth disparity, was at the front of my mind when I had the awesome opportunity to manage this project from David Benjamin and the Living. This was House #7 of nine theoretical projects that comprised part of a one-day only open house installation on the future of suburbia, a what-if, hyper-fictional reality showing design’s potential to provoke and elucidate a hypothetical path forward hosted by Droog and DS&R.
Conceived with the ingenuity of hybrid housing/service industry residences seen in Tijuana and rendered with the graphic intensity of Chinatown, David’s concept called for a home that is both a store and factory for making and selling signs. The factory is an inhabitable sign in and of itself, and the facade of the house is taken over by examples of constructed signs. As more and more Levittown residences convert to self-sustaining home businesses the House of Signs positions itself as an integral piece of future suburban infrastructure. We went from concept sketch to exhibition in less than 10 days.