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Wednesday, April 5, 2000

Fun with furnishings

Posted By on Wed, Apr 5, 2000 at 12:00 AM

Nest is hands-down the best thing to come out of the massive glut of fashion-and-home-and-design magazines now sprawling comfortably at your local bookstore. When you pass the magazine rack devoted to the places we’d like to live (but all too frequently can’t afford), take a minute to look for this one. Instead of holding out the unreal – some vision of sleek modernist elegance or overindulgent velvet wallpaper-lined posh – Nest has fun with design, with us, and with the advertising-driven periodical industry which supports it. Nest’s outlandishness, rather than planting a nasty seed of pessimism, holds out the possibility of reimagining ourselves and our surroundings far more profoundly than a new sofa can express, and asks us to revel in the ridiculousness of our living arrangements.

This spring’s issue in particular is poised to become a real classic, not for sketchy farce but for the consistency of its vibrant humor. Before you’ve even hit the contents page, a series of pages entitled "Please Leave the Room" attacks, recropping classic art such as Whistler’s Mother to wax poetic about cozy and elegant interior tableaus, and taking the ostensible human center of gravity completely out of the picture. The comic effect is second only to the way this approach makes pretension palpable. Remember, even masterworks in the Louvre pay attention to sumptuous detail, but look how ridiculous they are with their human subjects removed.

Nest really wants us to have fun, and has recruited Matt Groening to help out. Flip through the upper-right corners of the magazine’s pages and you get to watch "Futurama"’s favorite robot, Bender, performing his patented "drunken trick with a lampshade." Inside, Groening gives us the tantalizingly bizarre dream house of "Futurama"’s mad Professor Farnsworth. It’s a joyous and unapologetic trip through the structures of our own perverse desires, appearing just as the average American home leaps beyond 2,000 square feet of living space.

Nest’s humor, especially in this, its "All No-Nude Issue," leaves us feeling full and alive, while painting the limits of the industry quite bare.

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