The theme of the March/April Dwell is stated boldly on the cover: “Different Is Good.” The subtitle, “Architecture for an audience of one,” may reflect how many people are interested in living in a home like the one shown on the cover with a 200-year-old oak growing through the floor and ceiling.
Even before the doors open on the first home an ad for a car encourages readers to “Live in the New.” The auto, which might as well be called Nexus, offers a twin-turbo engine that “delivers 416 horsepower¹ and goes 0-60 in just 4.6 seconds². The small print explains the small numbers: 1) “if premium fuel is not used, numbers will decrease” 2) “performance figures were obtained…by professional drivers using special safety equipment and procedures. Do not attempt.” Readers might immediately think, “Do not buy.” The ad belongs in Road & Track, not in a magazine for those interested in homes and interior decoration. The LS 500 is a luxury automobile, not an Indy 500 pace car. Vaunting virtues of “seamless acceleration and torque” is not going to impress those looking for holey roofs and quirky cork.
Something different appears on the masthead page beneath the “printed with soy ink” box: another box declaring a “certified chain of custody.” What that phrase apparently means is that readers are now part of the process from forest to paper mill to publisher to printer to post office to consumer to recycler, and woe to the disrespectful individual who does not take his or her role as custodian seriously. Security strips, like those libraries insert into materials which can set off beeping alarms when patrons pass through checkpoints, may betray defilers who choose to discard issues of Dwell on rubbish heaps or in garbage dumps. Transgressors could have issues wrapped in black bands, the equivalent of electronic ankle bracelets, for probationary periods while on parole for breaking the chain.
Todd Oldham certainly qualifies as different, although the conversation with him reported on pages 48 and 50 reveals him to be more odd than good. At one time in our culture someone who was involved in a number of disciplines was referred to as versatile or a polymath. Now the term du jour seems to be hyphenate to describe someone who, for example, might be a “designer–photographer–author–baker–cabinet maker–wrestler–painter–janitor–florist–dancer–prancer–glommer–vixen.” “Tireless hyphenate” Oldham admits “I remember knowing what gouache was when I was seven. There are enough little weirdos out there who deserve that information if they want it.” This weirdo, who doesn’t want that information, is content to declare he knew what goulash was when he was seven. After a therapist told Oldham “You need to see some normal people,” his first thought was “I need to not see you again.” After reading an issue of a periodical in which people fill their homes with objects like model spines ordered from a medical catalog or live in glass boxes lifted off the ground or in a home with a tree growing through the roof, some normal people might think “I need to not Dwell on this again.”