Part of a video series by New York’s Storefront for Art and Architecture, Candy Stripe Variety Hour is a mash-up of architectural images and wry commentary by Jimenez Lai.
Has anyone else ever compared architecture to a Pringles chip? That’s the first idea put forth in a 72-minute video presented by on its curated YouTube channel. The chip’s saddle surface shape is reminiscent of Kenzo Tange’s Olympic arena, posits director and narrator Jimenez Lai from off screen; while the product itself is a premixed, reconstituted fabrication that bears as much resemblance to a potato chip as concrete does to stone.
From there, the topics shift wildly. In one recurring segment, iconic designs by the likes of Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright and Oscar Niemeyer flash onscreen as Lai recites pithy takedowns. In another, guest contributors un-box and comment on seemingly mundane objects for their homes. In between: consumer reports on the hazards of asbestos, resin and spray foam insulation; more “Food Stories” along the lines of the Pringles treatise; and, well, much more.
If 2001-era Vice magazine had made a video about architecture, this is what it would have looked like. Though the program is billed as “this spring’s must-watch low budget architectural internet television show,” it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what Candy Stripe Variety Hour aims to be. Its mash-up of content from a variety of voices gives it the feel of a newsmagazine, but it lacks a central theme, save the stream-of-consciousness interjections from co-creators and nominal hosts Lai and producer Matthew Messner.
This disorientation, though, is exactly the point. The show bills itself as “a technicolor spectrum of architectural extravaganza,” and thrusts a bratty middle finger at the design world, like a more intelligent version of Beavis and Butt-head. If 60 Minutes is smooth, uniform concrete, Candy Stripe Variety Hour represents exposed aggregate.