Building Bond…James Bond
As the James Bond movie franchise has been celebrating its 50th anniversary, it’s worth noting how well at least one aspect has aged: the sets. It helps that they often made use of actual & iconic locations.
For a single, fast-moving scene in the 1971 “Diamonds Are Forever”, architect John Lautner’s Palm Springs “Elrod House” is used as a backdrop for two gymnastically talented, bikini-clad thugs to give Sean Connery’s Bond a pummelling.
While “Thumper” (Trina Parks), surprises Bond from atop a boulder built in to this poured concrete living room, it’s “Bambi” (Lola Larson) who greets him first, peaking around a voluptous, bright red, jersey-covered, expanded polyurethane foam lounge-chair designed by famed hippie architect Gaetano Pesce in 1969. Aptly named the “Up 5 La Mamma” chair, with the spherical “Up 6” ottoman (barely visible beyond), Pesce has said the inspiration for the pair- which are tethered together by a string – was the image of a woman tied to a ball & chain, “prisoners under the prejudice of a masculine world”. So it’s perhaps ironic that the piece should be the seat for a bombshell henchwoman like Bambi.
In the forground can be seen Pierre Paulin’s “Ribbon Chair”, of tubular steel and foam covered with burnt-orange fabric. While the chair can now be found in the collection of the Pompidou Museum in Paris & the MoMA in NY, it was already among the owner, Elrod’s furnishings, along with the Martin Brattrud sofa and bench seen at the periphery of a huge, circular, Edward Fields carpet – custom made for the home.
Other classics, barely visible in the tumult that follows, include pieces by Harry Bertoia and Marcel Breuer, which were added by Academy Award winning production designer Ken Adam for the express purpose of being knocked around. In fact, and hard as it is to believe, the budget was limited on this film, because so much was paid for what supposed to be Connery’s last appearance as Bond. But by chance or by intention, the result is a grand – if breakneck – tour through some of the 20th century’s most distinguished furnishings.