• The Household Modernism of Paulette Bernège
    James Graham

Paulette Bernège, illustrations from “Si les femmes faisaient les maisons (If Women Were the Ones Building Houses),” Paris: Mon chez moi, 1928

In 1928, Paulette Bernège—the French journalist, publisher, activist, and expert in domestic management—published Si les femmes faisaient les maisons, or, in English, If Women Were the Ones Building Houses. Framed as an entry into the architectural debates of the day, this remarkable text lays out a theory of infrastructure grounded in domestic labor—exploring the pipes, materials, and details of modern architecture as they relate to their maintenance, primarily by women. Bernège understood this book as a dialogue with politicians and contemporary architects alike, pushing both to take stock of the forms and quantities of labor that buildings demand. Drawing on archival materials as well as published work (including the journal Mon chez moi, founded and edited by Bernège), this project will undertake both research and translation to expand on Bernège’s particular vision of architectural modernism.

James Graham is an architect, historian, and assistant professor at the California College of the Arts. Previously he has been director of Columbia Books on Architecture and the City, founding editor of the Avery Review, adjunct assistant professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, and a fellow at the Columbia University Institute for Ideas and Imagination in Paris. Graham’s research and teaching interests include the intersections of architectural modernism with applied psychology and occupational therapy, climatic imaginaries and environmental thinking, and the dynamics of global modernization. In addition, he both practices and writes about architecture’s discursive forms, whether as editorial platforms or experiments in digital and print publication.