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This review is taken from PN Review 3, Volume 4 Number 3, April - June 1978.

SUBURBAN COUNTRY-COTTAGE BAUHAUS, 1977 The Habitat Catalogue, 35p.

Probably the new 1977 Habitat catalogue is already (Nov. '76) a best-seller. A large quarto volume containing 128 pages of glossy coloured photographs, dedicated solely to titillating our greed for possessions and selling for a mere 35p., it could hardly fail to be a success. Terence Conran and the designers and marketing experts of the Habitat team know their public well, and their public is, quite simply, the younger half of the British middle class. A formidable army of customers.

Like so many Habitat items, the Catalogue is essentially a revived Victorianism. Its ancestors are the massive Christmas catalogues put out before the First World War by Gamage's and the Army and Navy Stores-whose ancient customers, by the way, would recognize with delighted familiarity the twisted cane carpet-beaters, the Liberty prints, the fish-shaped tin jelly-moulds, the pink and white flowered china, the earthenware bread-crocks and other Victorian paraphernalia which adorn Mr Conran's pages.

The format, of course, is very different. Nineteenth-century advertisers had to rely for visual allurement on those spiky, cross-hatched steel engravings which now look like something out of the animated cartoon sequences in Monty Python. Technology has moved on, and the new Habitat Catalogue has been produced with an expense of talent and resources usually reserved for film-production: it took, for example, no less than six Art Directors 'with the help of all the Graphics group'. Six photographers are named, as is the copy-writer responsible for the text (about which more later). ...


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