& Company Said
INSPIRATION | August 1, 2023 | By Saxon Henry
Designing for Barbie
Given all the buzz about the new Barbie movie that has just debuted in theaters, we couldn’t resist dipping our toe into the legendary doll’s rosy world. Who better to smooth our way than the oh-so-stylish Sasha Bikoff? The prolific pink tones that bring Sasha’s designs such a festive femininity make her the perfect guide to tell us how designing for Barbie would look if she was creating the interiors. We are illustrating the post with images of two of Sasha’s spaces in showhouses, which definitely have a Barbie vibe, the one above from the Kips Bay New York venue.
Designing for Barbie
As you can see from the trailer above, Barbie’s rose-colored glasses are about to turn dark, though the icon embraces each experience, bad or good, with her inimitable style. When we asked Sasha, “If Barbie were your client, how would you design her house?” she pointed out that Barbie would likely have more than one home—not only would she have her Malibu beach house (or one in the Hamptons), she’d also have a glamorous penthouse on Billionaire’s Row in Manhattan at the southern end of Central Park.
A vignette from Sasha Bikoff’s room in Kips Bay Decorator Show House in New York City.
“The penthouse would be plush and the interiors would be awash in varying shades of pink, from pastels to hot pinks,” Sasha notes. “The beach house will have space-age accents and décor that leans from 1960s French style to 1980s Memphis flair, though really fresh, and choc full of plastic and fiberglass.” Sasha adds, “Barbie and I have a lot of similarities. We both have this feminine touch and a fashionable flair.” Sasha cites her magical space designed for the Kips Bay Decorator Show House in New York as proof.
As if she was designing for Barbie all along, Sasha holds court in her Kips Bay Decorator Show House space.
“My Kips Bay room was a total fantasy that brought together an array of inspired ideas, from mermaids and the sea to nature and the sky. There is also a glamourous 1960s French element to it in the draperies and brocades.” She said she definitely sees the connection to Barbie in this space because the inspired ideas could just as easily express Barbie’s different personae as they do Sasha’s predilections. Sasha’s collection for Currey & Company includes a number of pink and white products that would fit so perfectly in a Barbie-inspired home.
How Barbie Became Barbie
Pink is prevalent in Sasha’s spaces, as is shown in this visual.
Barbie’s been painted by Andy Warhol and dressed by Bob Mackie, so when and how was this iconic figure born? Barbie’s official birthday is March 9, 1959—the day she was introduced to the American toy market. Her first “look” was a black-and-white-striped bathing suit, and the full name of the leggy, eleven-inch plastic figure, who had pouty red lips and a sassy blonde ponytail, is Barbara Millicent Roberts. She was the first mass-produced toy doll in the US with adult features and would go on to become one of the most iconic playthings in history. Barbie was the brainchild of Ruth Handler, co-founder with her husband Elliot of Mattel, Inc. When she saw their daughter playing with make-believe paper dolls of adult women, Ruth realized there was an unfilled niche in the market for a toy that allowed little girls to imagine themselves when they were grown. A doll named Bild Lilli, which had been inspired by a German comic-strip character, initially set the tone for Barbie’s appearance. Mattel bought the rights to Lilli, and Handler created her own version to reflect the Hollywood glamour of the times, referencing stars during the 1950s like Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe.
When she designed this space in the Holiday House in Soho, designing for Barbie could definitely have been on Sasha’s mind!
The first Barbie dolls sold for $3.00 each, and 300,000 of them were sold during the first year the icon was launched. Over the span of her existence, Barbie has had more than 250 careers—from an astronaut, journalist, and firefighter to a surgeon, entrepreneur, and presidential candidate. Barbie first ran for America’s top office in 1992, and has hit the campaign trail at least seven times since. She beat Neil Armstrong to the moon in 1965, four years before his spacewalk; and went on to be a paleontologist, a rock star, and a computer engineer. Barbie’s longtime on-again/off-again boyfriend, Ken Carson, was introduced two years after Barbie in 1961, the slick male figure named after Ruth Handler’s son. Twiggy became the first celebrity to have a Barbie made in her likeness in 1967, the supermodel followed by Cher, Audrey Hepburn, Diana Ross, JK Rowling, and a host of others. We should all be so lucky to have such a storied life as this tiny tastemaker, which has splintered the plastic ceiling time and time again!
A whimsical table that makes even the most diehard Barbie fan think more pink!
We’d like to thank Sasha for agreeing to channel Barbie’s stylistic tendencies for us so we could bring you this post. She certainly understands the concept of buzzworthy bling that is a staple in Barbie’s built environment. Think pink, everyone; we’ll be hearing quite a lot about the doll for the remainder of the summer!