My friend Nicole invited me a friend-of-a-friend’s mansion just outside of Montreal. It was this huge neo-classical style house on the lake, with an indoor swimming pool, movie theater to seat 30, and twice as many bathrooms as there were bedrooms (with heated toilet seats that open and close upon entering/exiting the room!). It was surreal!
Nicole and I had great fun gallivanting about the house. We took almost 300 pictures of us doing silly things… staging a murder on the staircase, bathing in a bathroom that was the equivalent to Versailles, driving the family’s sportscar, and swimming in the heated pool. It was pretty great.
The house itself had a strong ‘wow’ effect, but with a suburban middle-class look to it. It seemed rather odd for the appreciation for a design and luxury not to be carried through to the interior decorating. The furniture had either a wood veneer or plastic coating, there were plaqued posters hung on the wall instead of real art, and many of the light fixtures had a tacky, 1980’s feel to them.
Visiting the house was a real was an eye-opener for me. It made me reflect on stereotypes, values, money, and culture. I had always envisioned the rich as BMV drivers, shopping at Whole Foods and living in Knoll homes, surrounded by things of quality. Instead, these rich shopped at Costco, used paper cups instead of a travel mug everyday for their morning coffee, had posters of Marilyn Monroe and Coca Cola ads on the wall, and ate out every day at local diners rather than use their gorgeous AGA cooker (I went gaga over the stove).
I felt as if I had better quality stuff in the single room I rent than in the living room of this grand house. I have seen nicer interiors in the homes of poor artists than here, and a respect for contemporary art and the environment. I feel like those who have the freedom that money allows, should support the arts, and change their homes and businesses to be more eco-friendly, not use money to throw away on heating toilet seats and lighting up the whole house while you drive off to dinner…
They were two of the nicest people I have met though, and made excellent hosts. They were very down to earth people (well, not environmentally) and I enjoyed their company very much. I was just pondering a lot during the visit, rethinking stereotypes and value systems…
PS: Godiva chocolate is not worth it. It may have luxurious packaging, but you are much better off going to Soma in the Distillery District of Toronto, or buying Dolfin chocolate at your local grocery store.
And hey, my work in typography for the visually impaired got recognized in the Ryerson University podcast! Yay! Here is the press release:
and here is the podcast:
http://www.ryecast.ryerson.ca/facultystreams/users/courses/forum/forum0905.mp3 (I’m about half way in).