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Why Movie Villains Love Modern Architecture

January 28, 2020

Inspired by the book Lair: Radical Homes and Hideouts of Movie Villains, by Chad Oppenheim and Andrea Gollin, CNN’s Jacqui Palumbo in a review article, asks the question “Why do bad guys live in good houses?” Modernist architectural styles are not always cozy, and neither are villains. In the article, Palumbo first suggests that a home or secret lair built from glass, steel and cement can reflect a super villain’s strength and power. And she suggests some of their commonalities: “They are pristine, awe-inspiring, high-tech, otherworldly, often impractical, and draw heavily on the tenets of modernism.” Palumbo also draws the conclusion that these high tech, dramatic, futuristic designs can correlate to the tension felt by the public after World War II. The public was wary of runaway technological advancement and innovation after the war. Villains are grandiose as are their manifestos. Modernist designs, although minimal, can be shorthand for futurist, utopian, extravagant and sexy. Just right “for the idealistic recluse with dastardly ambition.” It’s a fun read.


“Why movie villains love modern architecture,” CNN, December 25, 2019.

Photo courtesy of and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
Don Draper's New York pad. Credit: AMC, photo courtesy of
Credit: Columbia Pictures, photo courtesy of