Thursday, 17 January 2013


I’m a big fan of the 1960s and ‘70s James Bond films, not for their ridiculous plots but for their costume and set design. You Only Live Twice from 1967 is my favourite.

 ---- This post contains spoilers ----


We start with the distinctly sci-fi giant squid-like spaceship which opens at the front and gobbles up other spacecraft.

Shortly thereafter we cut to a top secret crisis summit between the USA and USSR governments, naturally held in a stylish geodesic dome.

Bond must head to Tokyo to prevent war between the Americans and the Soviets, and to stop general space armageddon from happening, but not until we've all taken a step back to appreciate some mid-century typography:

Bag phone / 1967 iPhone precursor.

Enter 007 (Sean Connery) and Aki (Akiko Wakabayashi).

The problem with paper walls is that you can get knifed right through them

(mercifully, there is no blood to disrupt the neutral colour scheme)

Now we cut to stylish headquarters of the Osato Chemical & Engineering Company.

Look, if you're going to be beaten up by a thug in a beige suit, it might as well be in the presence of flawless modernist design:

I've always wanted a concealed, walk-in drinks cabinet:

This elevator lobby is very clean:

Now Bond is in the subway chasing Aki through more brutalist / minimalist spaces:

A trap:

All very Carsten Höller / Miuccia Prada's office.

Through the hatch:

And straight into a modernist chair

And  we find ourselves in another stylish office:

That desk lamp... and those bronze bubble monitors

 Did CCTV even exist in 1967, or did the film-makers "invent" it?

Also: Tetsuro's sharp tailoring and Arne Jacobsen "Catherine" chair

Tetsuro knows how to do things in style: "My private subway train, I never travel in the streets of Tokyo"

The Scandi-Japanese aesthetic from his office continues on the train, where a hostess in a kimono serves sake.

At this point we're drinking sake in a screening room on-board a private subway train:

"You're three and a half minutes early, please wait in here"

Here comes Mr Osato:

And his  "private personal assistant" Helga:

"I always take a glass of champagne in the morning, it adds a sparkle to your day"

"A Dom Pérignon '59?"

Mr Osato's mirror-fronted desk:

It has in-built X-ray technology so he can scan his visitors for weapons:

Suited assassins approach

Aki calls for back-up on another mobile phone-like device:

Her car has integrated video conferencing... pretty neat:


The car chase takes us past some space age architecture:

"Do you know what this is? Plastic surgeons call it a dermatome. They use it to slice off skin"

Obviously I am skipping bits here, but Bond gets out of that sticky situation with Helga, only to find himself right back in another. Here we are in a small aircraft (notice Helga's multi-tasking skills as she flies the plane while doing her make-up) but little does 007 know Helga is about to deploy her lipstick bomb


Not to worry, though, Bond gets himself out of that situ as well. Time to recuperate with a picnic. Aki's dress is actually quite reminiscent Raf's last women's collection for Jil Sander:

Back in Japan, Bond is about to discover Blofeld's secret lair....


It is quite big inside the volcano, so there is a monorail around the perimeter:


Blofeld's office is quite postmodern in its design (before postmodernism existed, natch), with its odd mix of old and new.

Here comes Hans the German bodyguard:

Tense negotiations; nice glasses:

Blofeld's pond isn't just a kitsch design element. It contains piranhas.

When he presses the pedal under his desk...

The bridge opens.

"You will see that my piranha fish get very hungry. They can strip a man to the bone in 30 seconds"

While Helga is devoured by bloodthirsty fish, Bond finds himself in a futuristic beauty parlour having a Japanese makeover, so he can pose as a local peasant fisherman (as you do).

We take a break from modernism, for another hit of traditional Japanese aesthetics:

What's going down in room A? Not a lot, just an astronaut chilling on an Eames chair:

We cut away to the Pentagon, where some important video conferencing is happening:

Back at the volcano lair, we suddenly see Blofeld's face for the first time

"Allow me to introduce myself. I am Ernst Stavro Blofeld"

How Prada-like is that high-collar and over-sized button, though?

Blofeld and Hans seem to have a thing going on. Kitty's third-wheeling here:

That was the volcano erupt switch:

What a movie.


  1. This post was immense, too much to talk about. All i need to mention is the mirrored desk, bubble monorail, brown slip on shoes, astronaut in chair and i haven't seen this in ages and need to buy it

  2. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.!!

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