The Architecture of John Lautner in Movies

A look at his famous, landmark homes featured in films, from the sexy James Bond pad in "Diamonds Are Forever" to the cult classic crib in "The Big Lebowski."

Photo via Los Angeles Times The Chemosphere: Built for $140,000 in 1960, the 2,200-square-foot octagonal one-story is perhaps Lautner's most recognizable structure. It starred in the 1964 episode "The Duplicate Man" in a futuristic plot set in 2025 for the hit sci-fi The Outer Limits television show. Chemosphere is in a style category all its own, with that space age, International Geophysical Year-Jetsons aura and was parodied on The Simpsons. Benedikt Taschen, publisher of the sleek, gorgeous coffee table art and architecture books, bought the house in 2000 and had it restored. 

His work is a photogenic favorite of art directors. Architect John Lautner (1911-1994), one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s first apprentices at his Wisconsin studios at Taliesin East in 1938, fused a signature “organic architecture” style using a distinctive palette of wood, concrete and steel that bears little, if any, resemblance to his mentor’s Prairie formalism. Lautner was clearly a man wired for the future.

“It’s not until you’ve been in a space that’s been molded and sculpted in a way that he does that you begin to realize what architecture can be,” said architecture student Ingalil Walhroos in the 1990 bio-pic The Spirit in Architecture: John Lautner.

Consider the sheer exuberance and Space Age possibility of his iconic 2,200-square-foot midcentury masterpiece, the octagonal Jetsons-meets-UFO Chemosphere, which rises 30 feet and sits on a 5-foot concrete pole in the Hollywood Hills. It seems to be a design that popped out of the head of a man who listened to sci-fi granddaddy Ray Bradbury’s Dimension X on the radio. The Encylopaedia Britannica labeled the 1960 engineering spectacle, used in Brian DePalma’s 1984 Body Double and as a set for a 1964 episode of The Outer Limits, as "the most modern home built in the world."

“I think any work of art has to have a spirit, has to have a feeling, in order to be art,” explained an aged Lautner in the documentary on his life's work. “If it’s alive, it’s art. If it’s static and dead, it’s not.”

Take a look at a few of  Lautner’s daring cinematic home designs featured in the movies.

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