Christopher Turner

Christopher Turner is Keeper of Design, Architecture and Digital at the V&A.

In​ 1972, the architects Alison and Peter Smithson completed Robin Hood Gardens, their only council estate. The couple were famous for projects such as the Mies van der Rohe-inspired Hunstanton School (1954) in Norfolk; the three chamfered, stone-clad towers of the Economist Building (1959-65) in Piccadilly; and the timber-screened Garden Building (1967-70) at St Hilda’s College,...

On Richard Hollis: Richard Hollis

Christopher Turner, 24 May 2018

In​ 1956 the Whitechapel Gallery hosted the influential exhibition This Is Tomorrow, in which teams of artists and architects were invited to create installations that presented their different visions of the future. Participants included leading figures from the Independent Group, such as Eduardo Paolozzi and the architects Peter and Alison Smithson, who displayed a series of found objects...

Killing Stripes: Suits

Christopher Turner, 1 June 2017

I went​ to Henry Poole & Co, the oldest tailor on Savile Row, for a fitting. Suits start at £5500, and I couldn’t afford to have one made, but the firm had agreed to teach me the principles of bespoke tailoring by measuring me for an invisible one, so I could at least engage in the fantasy: the emperor’s new clothes. In 1955, the Wall Street Journal described the...

‘Without you​,’ Hugh Hefner said to the Playmates he’d assembled for a party to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Playboy, ‘I’d have been the publisher of a literary magazine.’ Hefner founded Playboy in 1953 with a loan from his mother, who had hoped he’d become a missionary. The 27-year-old secured the rights to a previously unpublished nude of...

I am not a world improver: Building Seagram

Christopher Turner, 6 February 2014

In 1954, the sculptor Phyllis Lambert was living in Paris when her father, Samuel Bronfman, sent her pictures of the 34-storey skyscraper he planned to build on Park Avenue in New York. Bronfman, the Canadian ‘whisky king’ who owned Seagram distillers, had commissioned Pereira & Luckman to create a gleaming metal and glass edifice that resembled a decanter gift set. ‘This letter starts with one word repeated very emphatically no no no no no,’ Lambert responded when she saw the plans. Over eight pages she dismissed the scheme as an alienating, self-consciously futuristic ‘Flash Gordon job’.

Am I a spaceman? Wilhelm Reich

Adam Phillips, 20 October 2011

In a Freud Anniversary Lecture given in New York in 1968, Anna Freud looked back with nostalgia on the early days of psychoanalysis. ‘When we scrutinise the personalities who, by...

Read More

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences