About a year ago it was widely reported that Barbie decided to have yet another career change and become an architect. She has changed more than 120 professions so far but this latest one has made such a buzz that perhaps she might stick to it.
Barbie is a self promotion maverick so it is worth looking back and examine how the queen of playscale miniaturism managed to get on the cover of the Architects’ Journal just a year after she became an architect.
It all started when a professor publicly claimed that Barbie should become an architect and abandon the computer science career that she chose to pursue the year before. Not only did Barbie get the academia on her side, before she even self-published a monograph, but she also got the backing of the AIA. Surely, if Barbie was to become an architect, she could promote the profession to her 5 year old fans and architecture would become the buzzword-du-jour in playgrounds all over the world.
She debuted her career as a young architect wearing a banal dress with a skyline print, making one of her biggest sartorial mistakes. She got it so wrong that other women in architecture publicly offered their advice on how to look more like an architect. As if they were Barbie’s sorority sisters, other female architects suggested that she should get a shorter haircut and wear more black and less pink.
Around the same time, the AIA initiated a competition for other architects to design her dream house – in Malibu of course. This outside-the-pink-box move must have got her a lot of popularity points with other architects. Barbie reacted to this hype like a living legend and she avoided the spotlight for a while, in order to recoup and mastermind her comeback.
And what a comeback it was! She became a muse and by defying the laws of space and time she became the face of iconic artwork. However, her highest point so far has when the AJ put Barbie on the cover of its “Women in Practice” issue. The AJ restyled her and Barbie appeared as sophisticated as a doll can be, wearing a Zaha Hadid inspired ensemble.
Barbie’s architectural career so far only proves that architecture is indeed a self absorbed discipline; as it is usually architects that publicly discuss other architects, even when they are plastic. Unsurprisingly, the Barbie Architect was a bigger hit in the architectural circles than in school yards. Therefore, I venture to suggest that if an institution would like to encourage young girls to pursue an architectural career, perhaps it should give away Froebel Blocks instead of promoting plastic dolls.