Guest Post: Davin Heckman on Disney’s Dream House

Heckman Cover

In A Small
World: Smart Houses and the Dream of the Perfect Day
,
I began
with a discussion of Walt Disney’s original plan for EPCOT, the Disney Company’s EPCOT Center 
theme park, and the corporation’s planned community, Celebration, Florida. These three
successive takes on utopian living can be mapped against larger changes
American culture and society. Among these changes is a shift from Space Age
fantasies to the more mundane futurism of “The Perfect Day.”

A product of nearly six years of research, writing, and editing, at times I
wondered that the project I was laboring under would be a catalog of historical
snapshots of a passing cultural trend or if it would provide a meaningful
theory of the American home in 20th Century. A recent New York Times article,
“The Future Knocks Again,”
by David Rakoff
,
suggests that had I spent
another year on my manuscript, Disney would have provided a fourth paradigmatic
example of housing, which lines up quite nicely with my idea of the Perfect
Day: The Innoventions Dream Home.

Its depiction of daily life, from its casual references to global travel to its
individualized traveling soundtracks, from virtual reality dress-up mirrors to
RFID-enhanced kitchens, manage to bring the many features (and corporate
entities) described in my book under one roof. As Rakoff notes, “The
technology… appears to be light on speculative whimsy and heavy on available or
soon-to-be-introduced merchandise; more product placement than what-if
conjecture,” which makes the Dream House an exemplary, and perhaps
ultimate, model of its type.

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