Garage

Garage

By Olivia Erlanger and Luis Ortega Govela

A secret history of the garage as a space of creativity, from its invention by Frank Lloyd Wright to its use by start-ups and garage bands.

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Summary

A secret history of the garage as a space of creativity, from its invention by Frank Lloyd Wright to its use by start-ups and garage bands.

Frank Lloyd Wright invented the garage when he moved the automobile out of the stable into a room of its own. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak (allegedly) started Apple Computer in a garage. Suburban men turned garages into man caves to escape from family life. Nirvana and No Doubt played their first chords as garage bands. What began as an architectural construct became a cultural construct. In this provocative history and deconstruction of an American icon, Olivia Erlanger and Luis Ortega Govela use the garage as a lens through which to view the advent of suburbia, the myth of the perfect family, and the degradation of the American dream.

The stories of what happened in these garages became self-fulfilling prophecies the more they were repeated. Hewlett-Packard was founded in a garage that now bears a plaque: The Birthplace of Silicon Valley. Google followed suit, dreamed up in a Menlo Park garage a few decades later. Also conceived in a garage: the toy company Mattel, creator of Barbie, the postwar, posthuman representation of American women. Garages became guest rooms, game rooms, home gyms, wine cellars, and secret bondage lairs, a no-commute destination for makers and DIYers—surfboard designers, ski makers, pet keepers, flannel-wearing musicians, weed-growing nuns. The garage was an aboveground underground, offering both a safe space for withdrawal and a stage for participation—opportunities for isolation or empowerment.

Hardcover

$21.95 T | £16.99 ISBN: 9780262038348 224 pp. | 6 in x 8.375 in 52 color illus.

Reviews

  • Refreshingly unpretentious [and] narratively nimble.

    Art in America

  • This is a vigorous, thought-provoking book that, after decades of urban boosterism, rightly draws our attention back to the suburbs.

    Times Higher Education

  • Unadorned and unheated, a garage might seem like a utilitarian place. But in the analysis of Erlanger, an artist, and Ortega, an architect, the garage is a central space of 20th-century America, where modernism and suburban values collide with unexpected power.

    Atlas Obscura

Endorsements

  • A terrific, important book that both venerates and de-mythologizes the most hidden of all architectural spaces: the garage.

    Brett Steele

    Dean, UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture