1954 Robots Are Here

Yesterday I have invited Anne Chaise to present her work on Technologies And The Future As Represented By The Feminine Press From 1945 to 1968 during the Technologies, Architecture, urbanism course that I teach at l’ESA. Not only Anne is a pearl, but she is also a mine of information and the awesome librarian in chief at school.

Anne had gone through 1200 ELLE and 196 Marie-Claire back issues to find out that in these times, the magazine, which was already a strong medium of advertizing, had the goal of transforming the mentalities, to reconcile people with progress and science (invented/used during war time), eyes focused on the USA where technologies of the temporary, prefabrication, and standardization was being developed. I spoke already about how Buckminster Fuller envisaged post-war housing, free from infrastructure so people could pack and leave easily in case of war. That was the mindset.

ELLE and Marie-Claire had for mission to educate the good “manager” of the house (the word share the same root with the word “ménagère” in french) – the woman who had to be “clean, economical, efficient, ingenious, managing her own budget,” etc. Anne found that 31% of the magazine related to home improvement, the Salon Des Arts Ménagers, individual housing, préfabrication, mobility and flexibility (even featuring the work of Buckminster Fuller!). ELLE was participating (they had a stand) to the Salon Des Arts Ménagers as the magazine was at that time selling prefabricated houses designed by then young (and promising) architects such as Ionel Schein and Claude Parent. ELLE was also touring France with a mobile home to sell this new way of living.

In the ELLE issue 435 of 1954, the magazine shows a table summarizing how “authors of science-fiction, philosophers, scientists, visionaries or even imaginative individuals announce with a charming precision” the “everyday life of tomorrow’s man”. What was thought to arrive in 2500 has almost all already happened:

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Here below are a couple of picture of Anne Chaise showing her preparation work with the time line in relation to the articles of interest she found:

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