The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari



The idea, according to the architect and designer David Connor, was to create an environment in which conventional architectural perspective was altered. His client, Marco Pirroni, a guitarist and songwriter for the band Adam Ant, thought that was a great concept. Like the cartoon where Tom and Jerry go to Paris and everything around them, including the Eiffel Tower, is crooked.

No one entering Marco Pirroni’s flat would think of a children’s cartoon. The monochromatic hues of the walls in the main room, lit from above by a large skylight, create a somber, introspective atmosphere. Odd abstract shapes are splashed across the wall in violent patterns, as if they were painted during an angry outburst. The walls appear as if they might fall down on top of you. Doors loom, floors are intentionally uneven. Connor wanted the room to be precarious, unreliable. The central table, designed by Connor with sharp corners and an aggressive, jutting shape, has a leg that protrudes out into the room.


Pirroni’s flat invites the obvious comparison to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari not only because of the mannered shapes reminiscent of gothic patterns or the ominous mood caused by the distortion of ordinary objects. Much of the drama of the sets for Caligari also comes from the use of painted canvas, ornamentation that suggests rather than accurately represents specific emotions. Connor originally intended the walls to remain bare, relying on the irregularity of the architecture to confuse the sense of reality. 

To take the concept into a more abstract realm, Connor commissioned the Swedish sculptor Madelaine Palme to paint the walls, as well as the furniture inherited from Pirroni’s previous 1950s-style flat. The walls became a creative battleground for artist, client, and architect, as Palme painted and repainted according to the various emotional desires of the three involved. It is apparent that, whatever one reads into the contradictory patterns and conflicting shapes, the subject for the walls, as well as the impetus for the flat, is anarchy, a controlled breaking of the rules.”


METROPOLITAN PLACES, Elizabeth Heyert, 1989




~ by eaesthete on 03/23/09.

One Response to “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”

  1. Home Decorating – Garden, Kitchen, Bedroom, Bathroom Decor…

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